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African Human Rights Law Journal

versão On-line ISSN 1996-2096
versão impressa ISSN 1609-073X


KANGAUDE, Godfrey D. Adolescent sex and 'defilement' in Malawi law and society. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2017, vol.17, n.2, pp.527-549. ISSN 1996-2096.

During colonisation Malawi received a Western penal code, which included the 'defilement' provision, restricting males from sexually accessing girls below a specified age. Countries that maintain colonial age of consent provisions, including Malawi, have uncritically assumed that these laws serve the purpose of protecting girls and children from harm. This article examines the fundamental assumptions underlying the development of sections 138 and 160B of the Malawian Penal Code, and their historical and sociocultural origins. The article submits that these provisions serve the interests of adults and not those of children. They are inherently heterosexist, promote gender-stereotypical meanings of sexuality and potentially stigmatise the normative development of sexuality in children. Sections 138 and 160B need to be reviewed and aligned with Malawi's commitments to promote gender equality and sexual health and the rights of children.

Palavras-chave : childhood sexuality; child rights; Gender Equality Act; age of consent; Malawi Penal Code.

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