courtA High Court judge has ruled that sex between cousins is not incest.

Judge J A Makau says the law does not list first cousins among the relatives between whom intercourse is classified as incest under the law.

Makau said it is permissible to have sex with a cousin because in some cultures in Kenya, such as some Hindus and Muslims and some African communities, sexual acts with cousins are not criminalised.

In his judgement, Makau cited Section 20 ( 1 ) and 22 ( 1 ) ( 2 ) of the Sexual Offences Act.

He added that parliament intentionally and with good purpose excluded relationships between cousins.

Makau was ruling on an appeal on July 28 by a man sentenced to 10 years for incest and defilement.

The man is said to have defiled his 16-year-old paternal first cousin.

“My understanding of the said Section 20 ( 1 ) is that if any sexual act takes place between two cousins, that does not amount to incest within the meaning of the provisions of Sexual Offences Act,” the judge said.

“I find that it was an error in law for the trial court to have imported the relationship of a cousin and included it within the provisions of the law when that relationship was not among the specified relationship, to be considered in determining a case of incest.”

Additional Reporting by The Star

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