Teenagers have opposed the renewed push to have the age of consent for sex lowered to 16 years.
According to a report by the National Gender and Equity Commission released on Wednesday, teenagers argued that if the age of consent is lowered from the current 18 to 16 years, it would imply they would start taking up adult roles.
They also feared that adults mostly men would take advantage of younger girls resulting in increased cases of sexual violence in schools and homes.
“Once puberty sets in, girls consider themselves old enough to have boyfriends and thus engage in sex,” said the report warning that boys were most likely to suffer criminal liability compared to girls if caught engaging in sex.
Girls aged between 10 and 13 told researchers that teenagers mostly engaged in sex with their peers, while others have it with adults including relatives, neighbours, pastors, teachers, and especially boda boda operators because of financial gain- and at times through coercion and threats.
“Girls have been impregnated by boda boda operators who entice them with gifts such as sweets, transport from one point to another, sanitary towels and food,” said the report which also noted that those who engage in sex are frowned upon by parents, neighbours, and teachers.
Boys aged 14, and 17 years said that most sexual activities take place during celebrations like Christmas and school holidays. Most were introduced to sex in school during science and life skills lessons, through peer groups, porn movies, magazines, television, and radio.
Girls under the sea age group were found to have a high level of sex knowledge which the report further said is either derived from school, media, friends, peers, phones, the internet, and movies.
Sexual activities, the report states, take place in the boy’s homes without the knowledge of their parents. Sexual violence among teenagers is also another issue pointed out in the report and cases are usually witnessed during social gatherings such as discos and wakes in the villages.
Additionally, a group of young mothers in Kibra, Nairobi was of the opinion that the age of consent should actually be pushed to 20 years as early pregnancies led to among other issues, discrimination from friends, community, and parents.
“Sex should only be allowed at the recommended age for marriage. There is also a need for schools to have counseling programmes for girls who have been re-enrolled after giving birth,” observed the boys in the report that was handed over to Cabinet Secretary for Labour and Social Protection Simon Chelugui, for policy formulation.
The debate to lower the age began in 2019 when three judges while reversing a 15-year-sentence of a man who impregnated a 17-year-old girl, ruled that it was high time the country considered a revision of the Sexual Offences Act.