The Botswana Parliament has passed the Penal Code Amendment Bill raising the age of consent for sex from 16 years to 18 years.
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 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 Bill was made available to the public for their appreciation on 23 February 2017 when it was published in the Government Gazette
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 offences of hostage-taking, possession of human flesh or remains and cannibalism have also been introduced
Activists pushed for exceptions and they were accepted by Parliament as follows:
It will not be an offence:
1. If the sex takes place between persons who are both under 18.
2. If the sex is between a person who is not more than two years older than the other. For example, a 17 year old and a 19 year old.
One other amendment that we pushed for was to remove the discriminatory law that protected boys only and left out girls. The law was such that a boy under 12 years can be assumed not to be capable of having sex, effectively making a boy who has raped to walk free. Now girls that age can also enjoy the same protection.
Special thanks goes to Honourable Dithapelo Lefoko Keorapetse who noticed the amendments. The amendments are useful because adolescents who are already sexually active were going to be turned into criminals. Now the law will deal with adults who are using their power and purse to lure young children, especially young girls.