News on the appropriate age of sexual consent has been on the minds of many of late, the media has been covering stories on this in the country and globally as well. With the rising debate on what the proper age of consent should be in the country, it came to mind that there are a few things one needs to know more about and decide on the laws that should be more enforced on this. Issues on Child Rights, Advocacy for those rights and Awareness are some parts that require further discussion, not only to lawmakers but to every individual who is inquisitive enough to want to learn more.
The media has covered alarming stories on teenage pregnancy in Kenya; this unfortunately proves to be on the rise with the encouragement by mobile phones, lack of proper sexual education- conservative attitudes and traditional values tend to be the norm as adults aren’t open to talking about sex or the idea of sex before marriage. Young people need to get the right education in order to make informed sexual choices. The amount of social stigma that young girls face when they get pregnant before marriage even has most resorting to abortion.
Unfortunately, teenage pregnancy has seen people drop out of school, this coupled with a lack of financial and moral support and the shame experienced act further as key factors that prevent them from going back to school.
Laws touching on the age of consent vary around the world with some young people being required to be over the age of 14; Nigeria has the lowest at 11; Angola and the Philippines follow at 12 years; South Korea and Japan come in at 13 although Japan has notoriously consent laws that vary in different parts of the country.
Perhaps surprisingly, the country with the oldest age of consent, at 21, is Portugal in Western Europe and Bahrain’s age of consent is also 21. A number of countries in Asia and the African continent require individuals to be married before they can legally have sex.
Some United Nations Human Rights showcase the following that touch on the Rights of the Child on sexual topics;
Article 19: State parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
Article 34: States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, State Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
- a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
- b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
- c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.
The abyss of ignorance is one that most people are currently or presently staying away from in order to have more liberal educated lives as compared to when some of us preferred to not be in the know and let things happen as they may.
Going by the stated human rights by the United Nations, I believe that laws that cover issues on the age of consent should maintain a ground that instantly serves respect to all parties involved and avoid criminalisation of certain behaviour.