Kenya has been in a controversial state with a big looming mess of a proposed amendment for the sexual act age of consent, to be lowered from 18 to 16 years. This has led to raging debates on how old is old enough for a child to engage in intercourse.
This was brought about when Court of Appeal judges Roselyne Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage advocated for a re-think on the age of consent. The thought has raised eyebrows on what age can one be old enough to make informed choices on their sexuality.
The judges turned down a ruling of a man who impregnated a 15 year old and was sentenced to 15 years in prison but instead released after serving only five years. They pointed out that in many jurisdiction the age of consent is 16.
Why some people agree with the assessment of the Court of Appeal Judges
It unrealistic to think teenagers and maturing adults don’t engage in sexual activities, they’re commonly aware of it.
They may not have attained age of maturity but reached age of discretion and are able to make intelligent and informed decisions about their lives and bodies. The girls could know quite a bit more about sex.
Different opinions were raised from the public and with many parents and teachers raising apprehension over this. The fear of lowering the age of sexual consent to 16 will enhance promiscuity among the youth and encourage sexual predators who will take advantage of their innocence.
The Kenyan constitution highlights clearly that a child is someone who is 18 years and below. Thus lowering the age could come close to an increase in different forms of child abuse cases.
In Kenya, it is criminal for anybody to have sex with a person under 18 years. If the proposed amendment goes through, it will be legal for 16-year-olds to engage in sex and even get married
What will happen if the proposal sees the light of the day?
It means children with identity crisis who want to find themselves, will not have the opportunity to do so more so, if any man who comes to her and tries to prove to her she worth, she should go ahead and sleep with him. People will take advantage of these young girls and blame it on the consent.
Experts say at the age of 16 faculties that provide for competence decision making, may not have been fully formed. Decision making has to do with the stage at which a human being is at, in terms of their brains ability to make logical and emotional instincts. Human brain is not fully mature until one is into twenties and the last centers to develop is about judgment. It involves weighing and making decision and keeping record of its consequences.
16 years is too young to deal with grown up consequences of premature sexual act. Parents will also have a hard task in ensuring these children keep up with school activities. Imagine a mother raising a child and the child has another child.
We should wait for the children to grow instead of declaring them adults when the time is not right. This will curtail the right of children to be in school and right to education.
George, Children’s Advocate says, ’the proposal needs to have understood the background as to why the age was put to 18 years. Sex will lead to early pregnancies, school dropout, expose them to abortion and obviously will interfere with their reproductive health rights of the child.
It could also expose young girls to difficulties affiliated with pregnancies, motherhood and early marriage.
Religious leaders say, this is a wrong turn that we will be taking as a society. We will be losing our children, our nation and generations to come. Then what will be made of our communities?
Some politicians stated that; such a move will reverse the effort put into ending early child marriages and worsen cases of teen pregnancies that was evident in the end of last year.
The judicial should work towards reviewing cases of defilement instead. Where an adult engages with a child sexually, it should not be called sex as the child is under 18 years thus, impossible of granting valid consent.
The proposal has in turn put into question the responsibility of the society in regards to safeguarding children’s rights. It is unconstitutional and is crucial for all of us to come forth and fight this as we allow young girls to be children.
#No Child Is Old Enough to Engage in Sex
‘quoted from various media outlets’
- By Constance Ndeleko
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