By SILAS NYACHWANI
In my neighbourhood, there is a girl. A teenager.
Her hips have broadened to perfection. Her ass is about to break many a neck in the Nairobi and CBD. She is tall, and can easily pass for a 20-year-old. She is dark and beautiful, falls in that category of a perfect Western Kenyan girl(Luo/Luhyia) who scores in every department.
She is good. First time I noticed her, I assumed, she must be in college. Then she disappeared. I felt bad. Because the first time, when we bumped into each other a couple of times, and became familiar as neighbours, she used to smile to me in a type of way.
But soon, I noticed her disappearances coincided too much with school days. I concluded she is in high school. If I ever entertained any thoughts of talking to her, with that knowledge, I knew I risked going to jail for a long time.
So, nowadays when I see naangalia na huko. I don't even entertain such thoughts.
Now, we have been talking about the age of consent. Because most of us remember that July afternoon when you were 13 or 14 when we broke our virginity.
We mostly lose our virginity to the house help or senior relatives(male or female). Few of us grow to lose our virginity in an organic way to a boyfriend who later marries us to eternal happiness.
But teenage sex is not as bad compared to intergenerational sex. Generally, we frown upon when older people sleep with young people in an unequal arrangement. Even in college, a lecture who sleeps with students, even when they are adults, it is highly discouraged. Doesn't mean, it doesn't happen. Doesn't mean some randy men don't risk it all for a 9-minutes of pleasure.
But we are all conscious of the ramifications, social or legal when we are discovered. This is what we call deterrence.
Now. Most countries, more developed countries, have put their age of consent at 16. Simply because kids finish high school by 16. Here kids finish high school at 18 on average.
Also, developed countries have less HIV prevalence rates, and if you impregnate a girl you will pay for child support. Equally access to contraception is very high.
Now come to Kenya.
I know in North Kenya, young girls are hawked for a price of a few goats. But their cultural set-up is different. And things are changing.
But in other societies, we prefer 18. Because at the very least, we know if a girl finishes her high school, we have empowered her immensely, opened a door to college, and set her on a path to self-dependence should she marry a dead-beat or a violent man.
Assume the girl in my hood falls for my poor charm. At my age, I am more powerful and can wild more power on her and can easily mess her future. Say she becomes pregnant. Say the the parents are Catholic, opposed to abortion and now, she has to see the pregnancy to term.
Chances are, I will not marry her. The two years she will nurse the toddler, will deny her a chance to advance in life.
The two-year delay gives the women such a good headstart. By finishing high school, it puts them in a good footing to launch into life.
If we bring it down, the number of young girls who will be affected will be significant.
Already, HIV prevalence rates among young people is considerably high. They are infected by older people who can't rubber it up, because, you really can't rubber it up with a 16-year-old.
The two years can delay these infections and give them a chance to start making proper decisions. I know as adults, we often make really stupid mistake, and there is no correlation between age and good decisions, but 18 at least is different from 16.
Every time I ask a man if they will be comfortable giving me their 16- year-olds or someone much older, I draw a blank. If you can't let your 16-year-old sleep or marry a 45-year greasy sponsor, you have no business sponsoring that bill.
Sex is not a state of emergency.