Teen girls not ready for sex, says ministry | PRESS REVIEW

KTN News Jun 07,2019

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The Health ministry has objected to a proposal by the Court of Appeal that calls for the lowering of the sex consent age to 16 years.

In its submission, the ministry states that teenagers are in a transition period, which raises their risk of suffering psychological and physical harm.

“At this stage in life, adolescent girls experience rapid physical, emotional and cognitive growth,” the ministry’s position paper reads.

Appellate judges Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage had ruled that time was ripe for the country to consider changing the Sexual Offenses Act, citing the lengthy jail terms imposed on young men convicted of defilement.

They made the observation in a case where they reversed a 15-year sentence slapped on a man who had impregnated a 17-year-old girl. 

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

They said debate on lowering the age of sexual consent was long overdue because men were languishing in jail for sleeping with teens “who were willing to be, and appeared to be, adults”.

The judges referred to the jail sentences as an unfolding tragedy.

“Our prisons are teeming with young men serving lengthy sentences for having had sexual intercourse with adolescent girls whose consent has been held to be immaterial because they were under 18 years,” the judges ruled.