The government of Botswana has initiated moves to raise the age of sexual consent from the current sixteen years to eighteen years. The move is as part of efforts to curb defilement in the southern African country.
The measure is contained in an amendment of the penal code cap 08:01 which is currently 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 defilement and abuse of children abduction, indecent assault, and kidnapping of children.
“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.” were too lenient.
“The Bill will also addresses 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 minimum mandatory sentence.
“The offences of hostage-taking, possession of human flesh or remains and cannibalism have also been introduced,” the statement stressed.
Defilement and rape of minors is on the rise in most African countries despite campaigns against child marriage and the need to increase 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 other places like Burkina Faso, Comoros, Niger, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, the age of consent is pegged at 13.