THE MINIMUM LEGAL AGE OF CONSENT FOR SEX IS 18 YEARS – REPORT
By Lilian Mathu
Plan International Kenya in partnership with the National Gender
and Equality Commission (NGEC) officially launched the Minimum
Age of Consent for Sex Report that recommends 18 years as the legal
age for sex.
Plan International – Kenya Country Director Kate Maina – Vorley,
said the report will ensure that the law protects and advances the
rights of girls and boys to be protected from all forms of violence,
with a specific focus on the need to prevent and respond to sexual
and gender-based violence.
“With the rising cases witnessed of sexual violations among
children that have led to teenage pregnancies, especially during
lockdown, this report will ensure that our justice system is child-
friendly and responsive to the needs of both girls and boys in
contact with the law. To this we call out for partnerships in the
establishment of child protection units in all counties in Kenya,
where girls and boys in contact and in conflict with the law receive
the care and support needed through their involvement in court
proceedings,” said Kate Maina.
She added that all stakeholders should ensure facilitation of both
formal and informal forums for guidance and sharing of
appropriate information on sexuality education for adolescent girls
and boys in and out of schools.
The country director commended the Ministry of Labour and Social
Protection for the successful submission of the Children’s Bill 2020
to the Cabinet.
Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection Hon.
Simon K. Chelugui, who was also the Chief Guest at the event said
that the Constitution of Kenya clearly stipulates that a child is an
individual who has not attained the age of eighteen years adding
that the Sexual Offences Act, No. 3 of 2006 which gives the minimum
age of consent for sex as 18, is one such law that is meant protect
children from situations where they could be taken advantage of
sexually, before they reach adulthood.
“From the foregoing, as the Cabinet Secretary in-charge of Children
Affairs and based on the Children Bill 2020, I would strongly
recommend that the age of consent should not be LOWERED AT
ALL, but measures should be put in place to mitigate the
predicaments where young boys as opposed to girls are imprisoned
for engaging in sexual activities. Besides, there should be clear
regulations and establishment of comprehensive child
rehabilitation programs for any children in conflict with the law. In
the long term, the government should develop and implement
programs that address the sexual and reproductive health of
children,” said Hon. Chelugui.
NGEC Chairperson Dr. Joyce Mwikali Mutinda said, “Withe the
launch of this report and implementation by various stakeholders, it
favours children below 18 years who are not physically, socially and
psychologically developed to make decisions. The launch of this
report adds on to the great effort by state and non-state actors in the
overall protection of children’s rights.”
Plan International was involved in the development of the report
that saw voices of adolescent girls from Kisumu and Kilifi
contributing to the age of consent for sex debate.
In March 2019, the Court of Appeal proposed a law change to lower
the age of consent from 18 to 16 years. The rationale for lowering
the age of consent for sex according to the judges was that underage
girls and boys often willfully engage in sexual relations and that
although they may not have attained the age of maturity, they may
well have reached the age of discretion and are able to make
intelligent and informed decisions about their lives and their
bodies. The judges further pointed at the lengthy jail terms imposed
on young men convicted of defilement.
Plan International is an independent development and
humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and
equality for girls.
We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this is
often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination.
And it’s girls who are most affected. Working together with children,
young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just
world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all
We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood.
And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and
adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national
and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge.
We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over
80 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.
The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) was
established by the National Gender and Equality Commission Act,
2011 pursuant to Article 59 (4) & (5) of the Constitution of Kenya,
2010 . The Commission’s mandate is to promote gender equality and
freedom from discrimination for all people in Kenya, especially for
special interest groups (SIGs), which include women, children,
youth, Persons with Disability (PWDs), older members of society,
minorities and marginalized groups.
Function 8 (b) of the National Gender and Equality Commission Act,
2011manadates the Commission to monitor, facilitate and advise on
integration of the principles of equality and freedom from
discrimination in all national and county policies, laws, and
administrative regulations in all public and private institutions.