Women leaders oppose plans to reduce sexual consent age from 18 to 16 years

[Courtesy]
Women leaders in Siaya County have vehemently opposed any plans to reduce the sexual consent age from 18 to 16 years.

Led by women representative Christine Ombaka, Governor Cornel  Rasanga's wife Rosella Rasanga and the Executive member in charge of Education Mary Omondi, the leaders decried the already rising teenage pregnancies burden in the country which has led to high drop out in schools and the spread of HIV/AIDS among adolescents.

Speaking in Siaya County, during separate functions, they claimed that the move to reduce the consent age was criminal and unhealthy and should not even form a debate.

Mrs Ombaka argued that should Kenya pass the law on consent age for girls, they will be a laughing stalk in the world.

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She claimed that girls under the age of 18 are not able to sustain pregnancies or even carry them to term because their bodies are not properly developed.

"This move is a joke and the discussion must not be allowed. Girls of below 18 years age have died during childbirth. An adult is not even 18 years of age and if you ask me, we should raise the age limit to 20,"  said Mrs Ombaka. 

The women representative said that marrying girls at the ages of 16 will lead to high school dropouts which will be dangerous for the country.

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Executive member in charge of Education in Siaya County Ms Omondi urged leaders in National government and the counties to fight the proposal to reduce consent age to 16 years.

Ms Omondi asked Siaya County MCAs to hold a debate on the matter and form a county resolution that will protect girls from the region.
She decried the already high teenage pregnancies burden that had left several girls out of school in Siaya County.

"Kenyans must come out strongly and fight this proposal. If the girls get married at this tender age, we may never have the kind of women professional, we have in this country again," she said.

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.

According to the judges, the country should discuss challenges of maturing children, morality, autonomy, protection of children and the need for proportionality in punishing sex pests.

But Ms Rasanga said that the issues revolving around the girl child must be addressed immediately. 
She raised concerns on rising teenage pregnancies in Siaya County with statistics of over 42 percent. 

"Teachers must now help us. These girls in school are still young and can hardly handle being parents. These girls need their parents love and care and we must all come out and help with that," added Mrs Rasanga. 

She said that the increase in teenage pregnancies was as a result of poor parenting and disco matangas in the county. 

Siaya county recorded  12,503 teenage pregnancies between 2017 and 2018.

In July 2016 to June 2017 adolescents of ages 10 to 14 years recorded statistics of 508 teenage pregnancies while those of ages 15 to 19 recorded 12,480 giving a total of 12,988.

In July 2017 to June 2018 adolescents of ages 10 to 14 years recorded statistics of 308 teenage pregnancies while those of ages 15 to 19 years recorded 12,195 giving a total of 12503.

In the financial year 2016/2017, West Sakwa ward in Bondo sub-county recorded the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies with  848 girls of ages 15 to 19 being victims while in July 2017/2018 South East Alego ward in Alego Usonga recorded the highest statistics of 738 girls of ages 15 to 19 being victims.

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Women leadersSiaya Countysexual consent ageconsent ageChristine Ombaka