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From: "Amadou Kabir Njie" <waalo@online.no>
To: "Gampatriots" <gampatriots@Sun.COM>
Subject: Women Body Calls For Law Relaxation
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 00:02:53 +0100

Women Body Calls For Law Relaxation

PANA, 18 March 1999

NAIROBI, Kenya (PANA) - The Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers is pushing for the relaxation of laws on prostitution and abortion in Kenya for lack of gender balance, among other reasons.

The group is also seeking for the establishment of family courts, criminalising of domestic violence, re-introduction of the affiliation act and a harsh penalty for rapists.

According to a draft blueprint by a committee on constitutional reforms and laws affecting women, the current laws in Kenya intrude into a woman's freedom to choose and interfere with her rights to bodily integrity and privacy.

The draft document commissioned by the federation is based on findings by several experts among them Martha Koome, Njoki Ndungu, Jane Kiragu and Atsango Chesoni.

On homosexuality, which is classified as an unnatural offence under the laws of Kenya, the document notes that the law does not apply to females and is therefore biased against males.

In Kenya, homosexuality is considered against the order of nature and the penalty is up to 14 years in prison.

The document calls for de-criminalising of homosexuality where two male adults agree to have sex.

The draft blue print also takes issue with laws related to prostitution, saying it should be de-criminalised.

"The law does not prosecute clients as prostitutes and when law enforcement agents organise (police) swoops on suspected prostitutes - who must undergo involuntary medical examination - male clients or benefactors are not subject to arrest or medical examination,"it argues.

It calls for prostitution to be recognised as a legitimate trade and that rules should be enforced within it.

The document also calls for the de-criminalisation of abortion by way of a family health act that would provide counselling and safe abortion.

The draft is currently being reviewed by stakeholders and is expected to be submitted to the constitutional review commission and the government.

Federation chairperson Nancy Baraza on Thursday confirmed that the body was pushing for the legalisation of abortion and prostitution but clarified that they had dropped homosexuality as a reform issue for Kenya.

"While members feel that homosexuality could be of concern to some people, they also feel that it is not an issue that falls within the mandate of the organisation. It (issue) was therefore dropped as a reform issue," she said.

"As for prostitution, the federation is concerned that laws that exist to punish female commercial sex workers do not punish the men who solicit for their services," Baraza said.

She said women who were arrested during police swoops were subjected to involuntary medical examination and protested that the act amounted to gender discrimination.