It’s a crime to have sex with under 18 years in Kenya. PHOTO /LILIAN MATHU




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

vulnerable children.

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.


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