Legislators back calls for tougher punishment for sexual predators

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By JOHN NJAGI
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Members of the National Assembly on Wednesday backed calls for tougher punishment for sexual predators in a new Bill intended to ban out-of-court settlement.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill by Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua, is aimed at sealing loopholes in the original law by ensuring police officers handling sexual offence cases get specialised training to handle the victims and the evidence, critical in convicting offenders.

“This Bill will ensure that an instance where a person who defiles a minor offers a goat or money to the parents to sort out the issue out of the court is a thing of the past. Sexual offences are a serious crime, which affects the victim mentally and psychologically for the rest of their lives,” she said during debate on the Bill in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Some of the proposals such as setting up specialised desks in police stations, to make it easier and “more friendly” for victims to report sexual offences, and also ensure crucial evidence is not lost, and stringent fines for those who collude to defeat justice, received overwhelming support as some proposals proved contentious.

Ms Mutua said cases of sexual abuse were rampant in crowded ferries, where men made indecent contact with women’s buttocks and breasts.

Even Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, found the clause “any contact with a person’s body parts including breasts, buttocks intentionally without penetration” as subject to abuse and open to misinterpretation.

“One may be in a crowded public service transport and the driver applies emergency brakes, leading to people getting into contact, which is inevitable. We need to be careful to iron out some of those areas which might bring problems to those who innocently find themselves in such circumstances,” he said.

Emurua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno said the law as it is was unfair to minors, who despite going through physical, mental and psychological abuse out of sexual attacks, had the offenders let loose through plea bargaining negotiated by parents and offenders.

Kiharu MP Irungu Kang’ata opposed sex education in schools saying it will push students to experiment. Sex education should not be left to “third parties” but to parents, he added.

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