Kenyans who engage in sex work, both men and women, will no longer be fined or jailed if a new bill proposed by the Judiciary is passed into law.
The Bill, Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, 2023, presented by Chief Justice Martha Koome to Parliament, seeks to amend how the country deals with capital and criminal offences.
Sections 153, 154 and 155, penalise prostitution and impose a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
However, the Judiciary proposes to delete the three sections in the Penal Code, meaning that the offences will no longer be recognised if the bill is passed into law.
Under the current law, Section 153 defines male prostitution as: a male person who lives on the earnings of prostitution or is proven to live with a prostitute or has aided in the act of prostitution is guilty of a felony.
"The principal Act is amended by deleting section 153 which states: Every male person who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution; or in any public place persistently solicits or importunes for immoral purposes, is guilty of a felony," reads part of the Penal Code.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, constitutional lawyer Bobby Mkangi confirmed that the repealing of a section under the Penal Code means that the offense will not be recognised in law.
"Where a male person is proved to live with or to be habitually in the company of a prostitute or is proved to have exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that he is aiding, abetting or compelling her prostitution with any other person, or generally, he shall unless he satisfies the court to the contrary be deemed to be knowingly living on the earnings of prostitution," the Amendment bill reads in part.
The same also applies to women under Section 154 of the Penal Code.
"Every woman who knowingly lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution, or who is proved to have, for the purpose of gain, exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that she is aiding, abetting or compelling her prostitution with any person, or generally, is guilty of a felony," reads part of the Penal Code.
In addition, Section 155 provides that in any house that is used for the purpose of prostitution and the inhabitants live on the earnings of the act, a magistrate is required to issue a warrant authorising any police officer to enter and search the house and arrest such persons.
The Amendment bill, according to the Judiciary, seeks to change how the Judicial system deals with offenses involving human rights.
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