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‘Kula Kwa Macho’ features heavily as MPs debate Sexual Offences Bill

Debate over a new law providing tighter mechanisms to net sexual offenders ended in exchanges largely informed by gender as MPs argued over what constituted unwanted sexual advances.

This came as debate on the Sexual Offences Bill by Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua concluded, with the question as to whether MPs approve or reject the Bill postponed due to a quorum hitch.

Machakos Woman Representative Susan Musyoka started off the debate by clearly stating that women required their space and that that space should be respected, and it did not necessarily take “body contact” for a member of the fairer gender to feel offended.

‘KULA KWA MACHO’

“There are men who will stare at a woman in the office when she is working and even appear to undress them and do it..I even heard a song in the FM stations that’s goes like Kula kwa Macho,” she said, as her statement attracted curiosity.

Temporary Speaker Moses Cheboi asked her to elaborate, and she went biblical stating “the Bible says that if one looks at a woman lustfully, they are as good as having had physical encounter,” she said.

However, her reference to the popular song Zigo by Tanzania’s AY and Diamond, drew varied responses from male MPs, with Mr Cheboi asking her not to make reference to it, since it was attracting unwarranted responses.

Some of the MPs asked how she could tell someone was looking at her lustfully and whether her proposal would not criminalise the making of advances from a man to a woman.

Kitutu Chache North MP Jimmy Angwenyi said God had given men eyes to admire those they wanted to, establish whether they were “beautiful” and make advances where necessary.

But his statement was overruled as it suggested that “one could also use his hands which God had given him to do things which were not necessarily acceptable.”

SEAL LOOPHOLES

The Bill seeks to seal loopholes in the original law that enabled sexual predators to escape justice, especially through out-of-court settlement, in incidents involving minors.

Ms Mutua, the sponsor of the Bill, said offenders were colluding with parents or guardians of victims, usually minors, to settle cases outside the court in case of defilement, often paying off a goat or some other domestic animal, cash, or offering to marry the girl.

The Bill criminalises parents who engage in such settlements, in a move seeking to serve as a deterrent.

Other measures include putting up “specialised gender desks” at police stations, which would make it easier for victims of sexual offences to report such attacks without the risk of being made to undergo the stigma of “reliving the entire incident in graphic details” as demanded by officers who often lack the technical expertise.