Njoki: Lowering age of consent will only promote ‘rape culture’

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019 00:00 |
Supreme Court judge Njoki Ndung’u passionately articulates a point during a workshop on the risks of lowering age of sexual consent from 18 to 16 years in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/Kenna Claude

Supreme Court Judge Njoki Ndung’u has continued to oppose the call to lower the age of consent from 18 to 16 years, terming the move a sanction to “pedophilia culture”.

Lady Justice Njoki queried who would benefit from lowering the age of consent, accusing the society of embracing “rape culture”. 

“The problem of sexual offences is not the law, it is social and not legal, we have what we call a rape culture in this country where sexual offence acts are lesser crime than other crimes,” she said.

Speaking in Nairobi during the CRAWN Trust-Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust policy brief launch, Njoki broke ranks with her colleagues in the judiciary proposing the lowering on the same. 

Sex predators

Crawn Trust report says peer to peer sex accounts to 30 per cent while adults to minor ranks at 70 per cent.

 “With the above facts, lowering the age of consent is massaging the egos of pedophiles and sex predators, we must protect our children,” Nominated MP Jennifer Shamalla said.

In March this year, the Court of Appeal proposed a law change to lower the age of consent from 18 to 16 years. Three judges, Roselyn Nambuye, Daniel Musinga and Patrick Kiage, ruled that time was ripe for the country to consider changing the Sexual Offences Act, citing lengthy jail terms imposed on young men convicted of defilement.

They gave the opinion in the case where they reversed a one-year jail sentence on Eliud Waweru for impregnating a 17-year-old girl.

 In the Sexual Offences Act, Njoki indicated that the minimum sentences were introduced as a deterrent and to bar judicial officers from issuing lenient sentencing to rapist.

Judicial officers

Justice Njoki  said the main rational for introducing the minimum sentences was because at the time we did not trust judicial officers with using their own discretion.

“We were having judicial officers issuing one day sentencing to rapists, probation and not taking into consideration that children were involved hence the introduction of the minimum sentencing,” she added.

Opposing the amendments on the same, Justice Njoki urged Kenyans to scrutinise the data and statistics on sexual offenders sentencing and if judicial officers mischief has been cured.

On the claims that children especially male were confined in jail and prisons over sexual offences convictions, Justice Njoki cleared the air that no underage should be in such institutions.

Under the Sexual Offences Act, no minor is supposed to be sentenced to any minimum or maximum sentences.

“Any person under the age of 18 convicted of an offence will be sentenced under the Borstals Institutions Act where they have a maximum sentence of three years or probation and counselling,” she said. 

She blamed engagement of youth in sex offences on the society that has denied boy child life skill education and the absentee father syndrome. She asserted that no child should be in prison.

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