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From A Human Perspective, Let Us Have A Reality Check In Sexual Offences Act

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Let us start from the premise of a popular saying that sex and money make the world go round. Really, one can hardly argue with that assertion, unless one is a eunuch or is totally sexually inhibited due to any other reason.

Simply, sex sells, and it sells big time! In more licentious societies particularly in the West, sex is a multi-billion dollar industry accruing from the sale of related audio-visual materials and paraphernalia. Therefore, it is a high time we stopped the pretence and discussed this issue from a human perspective.

The issue of sexual offences came up recently during the ongoing interviews for the position of the Chief Justice (CJ) by the Judicial Service Commission when Justice Said Juma Chitembwe was put to task over his freeing of Martin Charo, 24, who had been sentenced to 20 years in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He said that the child appeared “willing to have sex with the defendant”.

I would hate to be in Justice Chitembwe’s shoes. But it takes a man of valour like Chitembwe to stand up for reason even when he is bludgeoned by popular opinion. That is really, in my view, the mark of a CJ! Now, it is one thing for an adult to take advantage of a girl below the age of legal consent.

That should be punished severely. But what do you do when two ‘consenting’ minors are caught in the act? Do you jail both of them or, throw the male child under the bus while the acquiescent girl, sometimes the aggressor, goes scot-free? Truth be told, even those making some of these draconian and unrealistic laws against sexuality, were deflowered before the age of adulthood. Whether that was a good or bad thing is another matter best left to the moralists and individuals to grapple with.

The point is that the road to that first time is fraught with risky but sometimes unavoidable temptations. More often than not, it is consummated at the spur of the moment. I cannot put it any better than High Court Judge Luka Kimaru who recently addressed this matter comprehensively in a media con ference. While the judge duly noted that the Sexual Offences Act 2006 was progressive at the time of its enactment, it is important to review it now so as to make it compatible to current realities and dynamics.

Teenage sex has increased tremendously and, by the look of things, will stay this way for some time. The days of abstention and scare of hell are long gone as social media glorifies sex in almost all platforms. During the days of my generation’s adolescence, consensual sex between teenagers was also rife.

Those who were found out were dealt with at the family level through punishment and counsel. Sadly, these days parents have apparently given up and left teenagers to their own devices. No one is advocating for men to be given a blank cheque to indulge their testosterone driven desires of their bodies. That is the prerogative of the caveman. However, we should always remain cognizant of the fact that nature dictates men will always make the first move in relationships.

The narrative that men cannot propose to a woman in a sexual context is very unfortunate and unrealistic. How will our young men get spouses if we legislate against sexual advances, which is predominantly a male pursuit?

Of course, this has to happen within legal confines to avoid criminality, but inside the boundaries of common decency, culture and religion as well. It will be sad day when men are pushed to the wall, leaving them with no choice in pursuing their sexual attractions in order to avoid falling into legal pitfalls that criminalise their advances to women.



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