Parliament is set to start holding public hearings on the Sexual Offences Bill, 2015. The bill seeks to consolidate laws relating to sexual offences. It was tabled before Parliament by National Female Youth MP, Monica Amoding last year, almost more than ten years after government started drafting a similar bill in 2002.
The bill outlines new sexual offences that are not provided for in the Penal Code. The Penal Code provides for rape, defilement, sexual assault and unnatural offences, among others. Some of the proposed offences include administering or applying a substance with intent of committing a sexual act, which will fetch seven years.
A person who, being in a position of authority, takes advantage of his/her influence over another to sexual intercourse, commits an offence is liable upon conviction to ten years in jail. An official or employee in a correctional facility like prison who engages in sexual intercourse or harassment with an individual in custody commits an offence and may get seven years in jail.
A house help who induces a child to engage in sexual acts faces upto five years in jail. Amoding notes that the introduction of the new offences stems from wide research by the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) on the growing nature of sexual crimes being registered by Police.
Betty Amongi, the chairperson UWOPA agrees, saying it is imperative that these offences are clearly outlined in the law to be able to curb the growing vice.
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Amoding however did not present the bill with a certificate of financial implication, which is a requirement that assesses the impact of the proposed legislation on the budget and its implementation.
â€œOn December 15, 2015, we wrote to the Finance ministry to request for this certificate but have not got it since then,â€ Amoding revealed. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga noted that the Ministry of Finance could be using it to frustrate private members' bills.
She cited an earlier bill tabled by Workers' MP, Arinaitwe Rwakajara that seeks to introduce the Minimum Wage bill. Kadaga referred the Sexual Offences bill to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee for public hearings.