What you need to know:
- Kiambu Woman Representative has come up with the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the law and make it more punitive.
- Among key amendments is a clause that requires employers to confirm whether a person seeking employment to a position of care has previously been charged or convicted of a sexual offence.
- Employers who fail to oblige are liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or both.
Despite the enactment of the Sexual Offences Act 2006, girls and women continue to suffer from cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
It is for this reason that Kiambu Woman Representative Gathoni Wamuchomba has come up with The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the law and make it more punitive.
The Bill contains stringent measures aimed at helping address SGBV.
Among the key amendments is a clause that requires employers to confirm whether a person seeking employment to a position of care or access to children or any vulnerable person has previously been charged or convicted of a sexual offence.
An employer who fails in this obligation is liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or both.
This means anyone with a history of being convicted or a suspect of defilement, rape and other forms of sexual violence charges cannot get a job in the public service.
It is also good news for the victims of SGBV as the Bill indicates the State shall bear all costs incurred for the examination of a victim of sexual assault for the purpose of gathering evidence, including expenses related to preparing a sexual assault examination kit; and conducting tests for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy on the victim.
The amendments provide for contents and the preparation of sexual examination kits to allow for the collection of evidence of sexual assault from victims for possible submission for forensic analysis.
Under the proposals in the Bill, a victim of sexual assault is entitled to the free preparation of a sexual examination kit which they may consent to be submitted for forensic analysis.
Additionally, it requires the establishment of a system for tracking of any kits prepared by the healthcare professional and the healthcare facility at which the kit was prepared, the law enforcement agency, which collects the kit for analysis, the entity which analyses the kit for possible forensic evidence and the victim of sexual assault.
Under the proposed tracking system to be developed and implemented by the Inspector General of Police, measures have to be put in place to allow a victim of sexual assault to participate anonymously.
“All healthcare facilities, designated forensic laboratories at which analysis of the kit is done and law enforcement agencies are to participate in the system which must allow anonymous access to a victim of sexual assault whose kit has been prepared and submitted for analysis,” the bill reds in part.
The new section, 34D, obliges the national and county governments to sensitise the public on the objects of the Bill with regard to the collection and tracking of sexual assault forensic evidence.
Many SGBV-related cases have failed to see the perpetrators convicted due to lack of sufficient evidence, poor collection and storage of evidence.
Ms Wamuchomba told Nation the Bill will generate a lot of heat.
“I will not be derailed and I will keep soldering on. I call on my male and female colleagues to support the Bill when it comes up for debate in Parliament,” said Wamuchomba.
Due to the increase of cases of SGBV in the country, last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the National Crime Research Centre (NCRC) to probe the increasing number of cases of gender-based violence (GBV) and teenage pregnancies that are on the rise.
He appealed to religious institutions to be vigilant and help put an end to these vices.
The President ordered the NCRC to prepare an advisory for security agencies on action that can be taken in the prosecution of perpetrators within 30 days.
Violence is a daily reality for women and girls across Kenya. According to government data, 45 per cent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence and 14 per cent have experienced sexual violence.
Many cases are not reported to authorities and few women get justice or receive medical care.