Kenya: The Elusive Sexual Offences Amendments

Female legislators have twice attempted to amend the Sexual Offences Act (2006) to no avail.

In 2016, Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua introduced amendments among them prohibition of plea bargaining and expounding on forms of sexual harassment.

The amendment bill had proposed that any person initiating or conniving to conceal a sexual offence should face a jail term of five years or be fined Sh500,000.

Had it passed, it would be criminal for anyone to solicit money, domestic animals or any other property as compensation from the suspect, marrying off the victim to the suspected offender, preventing police officers from conducting investigations or distorting evidence.

She had also proposed criminalising unwarranted touching of another person’s genital organs, breasts and buttocks. This particular proposal was vehemently opposed by male legislators who claimed it was punitive and could be used to victimise men. Finally, the legislators mainly men, voted in its disfavour at the second reading.

Last year, Kiambu Women Representative Gathoni wa Muchomba came up with fresh amendments.

She sought to strengthen collection and storage of sexual assault evidence through establishment of Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Tracking System.

With the electronic system, the relevant stakeholders could keep guard of the evidence collected from the survivor. It could have a tracking mechanism showing the location of the evidence and its status.