Passaris wants Penal Code amended to provide for sextortion offence

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 17 Apr, 2024 15:14 | 2 mins read
Nairobi Woman representative Esther Passaris. PHOTO/@EstherPassaris/X
Nairobi Woman representative Esther Passaris. PHOTO/EstherPassaris/X

Nairobi County Women Representative Esther Passaris has moved a motion before the National Assembly to have the Penal Code amended to accommodate the offence of sextortion.

According to Passaris, the need to accommodate sextortion in the criminal justice system comes amid a rising number of such cases.

“Sextortion has become a pressing issue in the country, causing immense harm to victims and eroding trust in public and private institutions," Passaris said.

"The demand for sex in exchange for essential resources, services, and opportunities is both an infringement of human rights and a significant obstacle to achieving development goals predicated on gender equality, transparency, and accountable governance.”

According to the MP, the current set of laws fail to recognize or define sextortion as a form of sexual exploitation, which hinders effective prosecution and victim protection.

“It is against this that I humbly pray that the National Assembly, through the Public Petitions Committee, proposes amendments to the Penal Code, the Sexual Offenses Act, and any other relevant criminal laws to explicitly define sexual extortion as an offence and make clear provisions on penalties, support for victims, and for connected purposes," she added.

The National Assembly. PHOTO/(@NAssemblyKE)/X
The National Assembly. PHOTO/(@NAssemblyKE)/X

Passaris' motion supported

Passaris' motion was echoed by other members, including Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai, who said that this would be a bold step in bringing forward an issue that has been silently affecting many and urged the petition committee to act over the matter.

“Sextortion is a matter that is facing all women. Those who are powerful and those who are powerless. Those who are rich and those who are poor. It is happening face-to-face, and it is also happening online," Nyamai said.

“The committee must receive as much information as possible because ignoring this matter will only make the perpetrators bolder, knowing that there is a lacuna in the law."

On his part, Suba South MP Caroli Omondi called for the need to criminalize sextortion and to make provisions for victims to get civil compensation when they have been sexually assaulted.

“We need to distinguish how sextortion is different from other sexual offences such as rape and social harassment. In sextortion, there appears to be consent, but there is actually none because the victim, whether male or female, is actually given what, in mafia terminology, is called an offer they can't refuse," the former aide to Raila Odinga added.

“Victims are presented with a set of circumstances that force them to exchange services for pay by way of sex. And we have had very bad experiences in this country. We have sex for grades, sex for water, sex for rights, sex for fish, sex for relief food, sex for jobs and promotions, and even sex for holy blessings in churches."

The motion has been committed to the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee for consideration.

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