The Botswana government has initiated moves to raise the current age of consent from sixteen years to eighteen. The move is part of the government’s efforts to curb the defilement of minors; which while fairly widespread, is sadly often swept under the carpet. The measure is contained within an amendment of the penal code cap 08:01, which is currently tabled before the parliament. It is expected to undergo debate and vote by lawmakers, subsequent to which it will be signed into law.
The objective (of the new law) is to address incidences of the defilement and abuse of children, their abduction, indecent assault and kidnapping.
The Bill will also address the general concerns of the public that laws are not deterrent enough by introducing stiffer fines and penalties; particularly for the offences of murder, rape and manslaughter and encourage uniformity in sentencing by introducing a minimum mandatory sentence.
“The Bill was made available to the public for their appreciation on 23 February 2017 when it was published in the Government Gazette,” an official government statement read.
The bill also caters for public concerns that sentences for some categories of public offences such as “common nuisance; trafficking in obscene publications; idle and disorderly persons; use of insulting language; nuisance by a drunken person etc.” are too lenient.
“The Bill will also address general concerns of the public that laws are not deterrent enough by introducing stiffer fines and penalties particularly for the offences of murder, rape and manslaughter and encourage uniformity in sentencing by introducing a minimum mandatory sentence.
“The offences of hostage-taking, the possession of human flesh or remainsand cannibalism have also been introduced,” the statement stressed.
The defilement and rape of minors are on the rise in most African countries, despite campaigns against child marriage and the need to increase the age of consent. The two crimes have been attributed to the low age of consent that does not adequately protect girls.
In Africa, records indicate that Angola has the lowest age of consent pegged at 12 years; which effectively means that it is legal to have sex with a 12-year-old child with their consent. In countries such as Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the age of consent is pegged at 13.
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