Walking on a Dangerous Path!
Over the last two months or so, Kenya has been dealing with a lot of issues among them being the proposed miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2016 that seeks to lower sexual consent from 18 years to 16 years.
A lot has been said about this bill, from the justifications to the rage of those who clearly say “how dare you”. Being in the democratic country that we are, we can all give our opinion, we can all shout to the top of the roof, but the bottom line is we can’t afford to lower the age.
In a country where sexual violence has been on the rise and more so defilement and rape cases what validation can there ever be? A 2010 National Survey prevalence of sexual, physical and emotional violence indicated that nearly one in three Kenyan girls experiences sexual violence before they hit 18 years. Dr Mutunga, the former Kenya Chief Justice reported that there were 6,101 cases reported 2014 and 7,727 in 2015.This are numbers and they don’t lie. FIDA Kenya in their wisdom is for the amendment and their argument includes that there is a conflict where the alleged defiler is also below 18 years.
But the question is what % of the number is a minor vs a minor?
If there were no rape, then maybe then age could be lowered hopefully with the confidence that people would respect a “no” from women or men. But that’s not the case.
A 16 year old girl is ideally in form two in the Kenya education system. Wouldn’t lowering the consent age be giving our children to the wind? The pro amendment team claims that not lowering the consent doesn’t mean that the minors aren’t engaging in sex.
But isn’t hypocritical that we want to lower the age because they will have sex anyway. Yet, we have continuously hide behind morals by constantly refusing to include sexual reproductive health(SRHR) rights in the school curriculum citing worry that it will increase promiscuous behaviors.
Let’s not be blind to the reality that the defiler could be a minor yet the law binds the magistrate or the judge to make a judgment that the defiler is an adult, nor disputing the fact that some adults have manipulated their kids and the system to punish their daughter’s boyfriends. But still is this a good reason to lower the consensual age?
It is time we looked for seriously solutions other than condoning vices that continue to thrive in our society. What happens when we realize that 14 years olds are having sex with 14 years old? Are we going to lower the consent age again too?
A 16 years old boy or girl is still a kid. We surely can’t afford to open this Pandora box in a country where pedophiles roams on the streets and boast of their prowess on social media.
As opposed to lowering the consent, how about we do the following;
- Include comprehensive sex education in the school curriculum-Abstinence is not the only thing that should be taught under sex education. Having kids love who they are and embrace their sexuality is paramount.
- Every stakeholder to play their part. In the past, parents seem to have left the role to teachers at school and the teacher to parents at home. There is a gap that has to be filled
- Youth friendly space be made at school, police station and in the neighborhood. This spaces need to be equipped with information on sex and responsible childhood.
Finally Kenyans, we can’t have consensual age lowered whether we put the 3 suggestions in place or not.