President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has rejected the Sexual Offenses bill, 2019 providing for criminalisation of a range of sexual offenses that have not been provided for in the existing law.
According to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Anita Among the bill has been deferred to parliament for scrutiny. “President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni rejected the Sexual Offenses bill on grounds that all the offenses it seeks to criminalise are provided for under the Penal Code Act. Bill has now been returned to parliament,” she said.
In May, Parliament passed the Sexual Offences Bill, 2019 providing for criminalisation of a range of sexual offenses that have not been provided for in the existing law.
Whereas the Penal Code Act, Cap. 120 provides for a number of sexual offences, the provisions are outdated and do not reflect the evolving trends in social attitudes, values and sexual practices. As a result, the courts of law find a challenge in dealing with new forms of sexual violence and exploitation such as sex tourism, indecent communication and child marriages among others.
The new law came at a time when there is a countrywide outcry on the rise in sexual offences in many institutions with children and women being the most affected victims. Some of the provisions within the law that address the plight of women include consent to withdrawal from a sexual act which attracted a prolonged debate.
A section of male legislators were however, opposed to this provision expressing fear that it might be used as an instrument of defamation. They were also concerned that it would be hard for courts of law to justify an offence when withdrawal of consent is denied.
“A person who unlawfully gives, displays, distributes or supplies to a child material of a sexual nature, illustrating a sexual act or mimicking a sexual organ commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for a term of ten years,” said MP Oboth Oboth said.
Legislators commended the provision on aggravated rape which they said will ensure a satisfactory sentence, as opposed to having a standard punishment for all rapists.
It is aggravated rape when the sexual offender is suffering from AIDS; when the victim suffers disability; when the act was committed by two or more persons, when the offender is a person in authority and when the victim is of advanced age.
Sexual offences such as indecent utterances, gestures and touches to sexual organs of another person which have not been provided for the in previous law have also been catered for.
The mover of the bill, Monicah Amoding applauded the 10th Parliament which she said has delivered a gift to the country and especially women.
“I am short of words and just excited; this bill is a gift to the women’s movement and the country as we wind up this Parliament. When we started the 10th Parliament, Women MPs put out four bills and three have been passed,” Amoding said.
Clause 2 of the Bill on rape provides that a person who performs a sexual act with another person-without that other person’s consent; or incapable of consenting to the sexual act commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to imprisonment for life.
Clause 8 states that, a person who unlawfully detains another person with the intention of performing a sexual act with that other person commits an offence and is liable on conviction, to imprisonment not exceeding seven years.
The bill also creates offence for a person who transmits, transfers, sends, forwards, directs material of a sexual nature to another person without the consent of that other person.