When women in Kenya say ‘no’ to sex they really mean ‘yes’ – according to Paddy Ahenda, a male Kenyan member of parliament (MP), whose statements this week during a parliamentary debate prompted 12 of the 18 women MPs in the room to walk out in spontaneous protest. “This is a nation that should be in shame because its leaders are laughing at offenses committed against women and children,” said Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official Catherine Mumma, the BBC News reported.
The parliament was discussing a new Sex Offenses Bill that seeks harsher penalties for rape, and better medical care for victims, reports the East African Standard. Opponents of the comprehensive bill, mostly male, argue that the bill’s attempt to raise the marriage age to 18 and criminalize unwanted advances conflicts with custom, according to the Standard.
During the debate a group of about 200 women wearing red shirts that read “Support the Sexual Offenses Bill” marched towards the Parliament but were blocked by police, reports the Standard. Although they did not reach the parliament building, the women held a sit-in for several hours that partially closed down a major thoroughfare.