REJECT LOWERING TO 16

Mt Elgon women want consent age raised to 21

Say the proposal is outrageous and will lead to increase in number of teenage mothers

In Summary

• Chepkorir proposed stiffer penalties like castration for those who defile children

• Wambilianga promised to initiate more projects to empower women.

Bungoma women representative Catherine Wambilianga addressing women from MT Elgon on Saturday at kapsokwon sda church
Bungoma women representative Catherine Wambilianga addressing women from MT Elgon on Saturday at kapsokwon sda church
Image: BRIAN OJAMAA

Women from Mount Elgon in Bungoma want the consent age raised to 21 years. Three Court of Appeal judges asked that the age be lowered from 18 years to 16 years.  

Judges Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage ruled that time is ripe for the country to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act, citing lengthy jail terms imposed on men charged with defilement.

The women from all the six wards in Mt Elgon on Saturday said the proposal is outrageous and will lead to increase in number of teenage mothers. 

They spoke in a meeting organised by Bungoma Woman Rep Catherine Wambilianga in Kapsokwony.

Janet Chepkorir from Chepyuk ward said, "We are against this proposal. If there is a region that has suffered brutality of child molestation, rape, early marriages and teen pregnancies it is Mount Elgon. We cannot lower the consent age."

Chepkorir said the government should intervene and empower girls with education. She said boda boda operators, religious leaders, politicians, police officers, teachers and even relatives prey on young girls.

Chepkorir proposed stiffer penalties like castration for those who defile children. "Mt Elgon women are humbly calling on our women representative and her colleagues to be on front line and ensure this proposal does not see light of the day," she said.

Wambilianga promised to initiate more projects to empower women.

She said she will advocate for construction of a gender-based rescue centre in Chepukurkur. Chepkurkur hit media headlines in 2016 after 18 girls were impregnated. Wambilianga urged parents to monitor their children during the April school holidays to keep them away from early sex and drug abuse.

She also urged bar owners in Webuye, Kimilili and Chwele town not to admit nor sell alcohol to underage children.

The age of consent was set at 18 in 1963. The debate has raised a heated discussion from various quarters as some argue that this law should be reviewed, calling the age of consent at 18 is unrealistic. Pundits say most children below 18 are already having sex. They say young people engage in sex secretly and recklessly and that is why there is increased teenage pregnancy and HIV infections are high among the youth.