A new proposal has been put forward by the Court of Appeal in Kenya to lower the age of consent to 16 years old.
The proposal to lower the age of consent in the country comes after three judges, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga, and Patrick Kiage reversed a 15-year sentence of a man who impregnated a 17-year-old girl.
“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.
The judges have argued that it is about time we revised and thereby lowered the law where the age of consent is 18 years citing that it is unrealistic to assume that teenagers and maturing adults do not engage in sex.
The question that lies beneath this whole issue is, who exactly is protecting with this proposed age of consent? It definitely isn’t the girl child.
Sexual predators and the boy child are protected by this new proposed law.
Previously, if you were charged with sexual misconduct with a minor, you faced up to 15 years in jail. This is bound to change with the new proposed law.
Teenage pregnancies should be expected to rise, with a large number of underage girls dropping out of schools due to pregnancies or to get married.
Data displayed on the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), disclosed that between July 2016 and June 2017, 378,397 pregnant girls aged between 10 and 19 were presented in health facilities in all the 47 counties.
Now, imagine if the age of consent is lowered, how many more teenagers will get pregnant?
Transition rates to colleges and universities are also expected to be lower due to the proposed age of consent.
In 2017, Kenya was said to have almost achieved gender parity in education with transition rates of girls increasing by 90 percent.
However, this figure is expected to go down due to the proposal to lower the age of consent.
Unsafe abortions will also be on the rise among teenage girls as most girls who will fall pregnant but want to proceed with their studies will opt to terminate those pregnancies.
It is clear that all previous efforts to empower the girl child have been undermined by this proposal to lower the age consent.
Currently, the age of consent is 16 years in 76 nations around the world and Kenya would be the newest nation to lower the age of consent if the proposed law by the judges is implemented.
Countries with the lowest age of consent include Nigeria at just 11 years old, followed by Angola and the Philippines at 12, and several other countries including South Korea and Japan at 13.
Nonetheless, a number of countries in Asia and Africa require individuals to be married before they can legally have sex. These include Libya, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, all of which are known to be highly conservative on issues around gender and sexuality.
The country with the highest age of consent in the world is Portugal, with age consent set at 21 years.