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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Kenyan women's anger at MP 'slur'
Health Minister Charity Ngilu
Health Minister Charity Ngilu led the walk-out
Kenyan women's rights activists have condemned an MP who told parliament that women usually say "No" to sex, even if they mean "Yes".

During a debate on a new sex crimes law, Paddy Ahenda said Kenya women were too shy to openly say "Yes" and warned the law could prevent marriage.

Twelve of Kenya's 18 female MPs walked out in protest, saying Mr Ahenda and other MPs were "trivialising" rape.

Many Kenyans are alarmed by a huge rise in the incidence of sexual abuse.

"This is a nation that should be in shame because its leaders are laughing at offences committed against women and children," said Kenya National Commission on Human Rights official Catherine Mumma.

'Impediment to marriage'

Several male MPs feared that the bill went too far and could lead to a spate of false accusations by women.

"If the bill is adopted the way it is, it will prevent men from courting women and this will be a serious impediment to the young who would want to marry," said Mr Ahenda.

"In our culture, when women say 'No', they mean 'Yes' unless it's a prostitute."

The AFP news agency reports that many of his male colleagues laughed and applauded his comments.

He also called women "God's creatures", prompting women in the public gallery to leave, followed by female MPs, led by Health Minister Charity Ngilu.

A group of women's rights activists wearing red T-shirts marched to parliament as the MPs prepared to debate the Sexual Offences Bill, urging them to pass it.

They were turned back by police.


Earlier in the debate, MP Njoki Ndungu had said the bill would act as a deterrent to the rising number of rapes and other sexual crimes.

She said rape was the "most traumatic experience that happens at the most private part of you" and had nothing to do with sex.

She said the bill would introduce 21 new sexual offences and provide for the treatment of victims, including publicly funded counselling.

The bill's first version recommended that rapists be castrated but this has now been dropped.

Last year, Ms Ndungu told parliament that two Kenyan women were raped every hour and accused the police of being lax in prosecuting rapists.

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