MPs remove controversial clause reducing age of sexual consent following public outcry

The amendments would have lowered the age at which a young person can legally consent to sexual activity.

Kenyan parliament in session. Members of Parliament have blocked attempts to amend the Sexual Offences Act to reduce the age of consent to 16 from 18 years.

Following a public outcry that resulted from the proposed amendments, Leader of Majority in Parliament Aden Duale has now asked the House to make proposals to “cure it” as the MPs are now expected to expunge the section on age reduction.

“The impression created by the bill is not right and I will therefore write to the Speaker to ensure that the section is withdrawn," Duale said during debate on the Bill.

The disputed changes to the Sexual Offences Act will therefore now be effected at the committee stage.

Public disapproval

It had earlier emerged that the offensive clause in the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Bill 2016 was still intact after both the public and MPs had expressed their disapproval arguing that the proposals protected the rights of sexual offenders at the expense of their victims.

Those who voiced their strong disapproval included MPs James Nyikal (Seme), Wanjiku Muhia (Nyandarua County) Florence Kajuju (Meru County), Tom Kajwang (Ruaraka) Joseph M'eruaki (Igembe North) and Ken Okoth (Kibra) who all termed termed the proposed amendments as backward.

"The Bill is very dangerous. It is common knowledge that children under 16 years are still under the care of their parents," M'eruaki said.

Dr Nyikal said reducing the age of consent to 16 goes against laws of child development, arguing that biological maturity does not mean social maturity.

"Girls under the age of 16 are too young to make decisions on their own as they are still under their parents' care," said Okoth.

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