Legal Age of Consent for Sex is 18 years in Kenya

launch of a multi-sectoral report dubbed ‘Minimum Age of Consent for Sex: Addressing the Dilemma’, which was spearheaded by National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC).

Labour CS Simon Chelugui with Dr Joyce Mwikali Mutinda, chairperson of National Gender and Equality Commission during the launch of the report on minimum age of consent for sex in Nairobi

Plan International-Kenya, a children’s rights organization, in partnership with the National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) on Wednesday, opposed proposals aimed at a reduction in the age of consent for sex.

In a new report, they said “ There lacks enough evidence though, of the benefits of lowering the age of consent for sex,” adding that it should not be lost to all that a reduction in the age of consent for sex may regress the gains made by the country on gender equality and children’s rights through a decision that is not very well thought out.

As a result, they recommend that the age of consent for sex in Kenya should remain 18. 

“Children, state and non-state agencies working on children matters unanimously upheld this recommendation.”

The Sexual Offences Act Section 42 provides that: “a person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.” 

The Act also clarifies the age of consent for sex that previously varied under different statutes and makes it clear that the minimum age of consent for sex is 18.

The report, ‘Minimum Age of Consent for Sex: Addressing the Dilemma’ which is a summary of discussions and proposals from multi-sectoral stakeholders’ fora, 2019, said children exposed to sexual activities before age 18 are more likely to suffer from long term mental, social and physical health challenges.

They also urged the government through the judiciary to explore to address the high number of boys convicted or in remand for committing sexual offences with girls of their age or slightly older or younger, but all aged below 18.

“The age of consent for sex for both boys and girls cannot be lowered to anything less than 18 years and we are retaining that position to protect the child,” Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui. 

The debate on the age of consent of sex was sparked by the Court of Appeal proposal in March 2019 that invited national discussions on the mechanism for dealing with children offenders under provisions within the Sexual Offences Act, 2006.

The multi-sectoral stakeholder’s forums agreed in principle that lowering of the age of consent for sex would have wide and largely negative implications on the educational, social and health development of children.

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