Inmates and child activists now want the Sexual Offences Act reviewed claiming that it favours women over men.
This emerged when members of the civil society and religious leaders joined inmates at Naivasha Medium prison in marking Father’s Day. According to them, courts have been ‘siding’ with women in sexual offences cases, leading to a high number of convictions for male suspects.
An inmate Meshack Otieno who is serving ten years for attempted defilement said that there was a lacuna in the Sexual Act. Otieno who is a law student in the prison said that he would be seeking a review of the Act once he leaves prison next year.
“The law clearly states what happens when a man sleeps with a minor, but it does not address what happens to a minor who sleeps with an elderly woman,” he said.
The inmate said that there were tens of inmates who were innocent, but had been jailed on the basis of the Sexual Offences (SO) Act whose subject cannot be solved out of court.
Another suspect Benson Ndirangu decried the long period used by courts to determine sexual offences cases. Ndirangu who is charged with rape said that it has taken four years for his case to commence, adding that in that period, he has undergone untold suffering.
“Bond terms should be reviewed as many of suspects cannot handle the (bond) terms set by the punitive (SO) Act,” he said.
According to Rosemary Kinuthia a director with the African Boy Child network, eighty per cent of inmates had been charged with sexual offences. She said that in some incidents, the suspects had been framed up adding that this had sowed discord in society.
“It’s time that the SO Act was reviewed as its sides with the women and that is why you find so many men in prison accused of sexual offences,” she said.
Kinuthia added 40 per cent of suspects released from prison returned back with some going out to revenge after years of suffering in jail.
“A recent research showed that 45 per cent of children in the country are from single parents and this has an impact in their day to day life,” she said.
On his part, Senior Superintendent of prison Antony Muriuki said they were committed to reforming the inmates through various courses.
Maendeleo ya Wanaume chair Nderitu Njoka has also termed the SO Act “vague” for having been made in a rush by “agitated feminists.”
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