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Criminalization of Consensual Sexual Acts Among Adolescents in East and Southern Africa

The criminalization of consensual sexual activity of adolescents takes different forms in East and Southern Africa (ESA). Some countries criminalize defilement, which can be a consensual act, and this can result in the criminalization of adolescents and young people. South Africa and Kenya were two of several countries that directly criminalized consensual sexual acts among adolescents. In both countries, the legislation was subject to court challenges in 2014. The legal challenge was successful in South Africa and led to legislative amendment in 20152, but failed in Kenya, which means that Kenya continues to treat consensual acts between adolescents below the age of consent as criminal offences.