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SEXUAL EDUCATION AND RIGHTS

Reducing age of consent to 16 good but not enough

Comprehensive sexuality education needs to be introduced

In Summary

• Three judges, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage, ruled that time was ripe for the country to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act.

• Our children are already having sex and condemning young people who are engaging in consenting sex with other people of the same age to jail doesn’t help.

Graphics of the Consumer Insight study on first sexual encounter
Graphics of the Consumer Insight study on first sexual encounter
Image: COURTESY

The Court of Appeal has proposed a law change to lower the age of consent to 16 years.

Three judges, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage, ruled that time was ripe for the country to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act, citing lengthy jail terms imposed on young men convicted of defilement.

The age of consent was set at 18 in 1963, when Kenya gained independence. It is now 55 years and there is need to do a review on this law. Based on the fact that the average age of first sexual experience is now at 14(according to KDHS 2014), having the age of consent at 18 is unrealistic.

Our children are already having sex and condemning young people who are engaging in consenting sex with other people of the same age to jail doesn’t help matters. It makes them do it secretly and recklessly. That is why cases of teenage pregnancy and new HIV infections among teenagers and youths are high.

I am not supporting adults having sex with children. That is completely wrong. That would be basically taking advantage of them.

Reducing the consenting age to 16 is good but we need to consider some very important issues when doing this. We need to make it clear that no adult is to have sex with a minor below the age of 18.

There is also need to have a policy that will ensure young people below the age of 16, who engage in consensual sexual activities will not be arrested or prosecuted. Children also need to be aware of their rights and have all the information and services needed to make informed choices.

Comprehensive sexuality education needs to be introduced in and out of schools, and access to reproductive health services need to be available to them before changing the age of consent.

Kisumu county