It is not illegal for cousins to marry or engage in sex, the High Court has ruled even though relationships between cousins are acceptable in some communities and taboo in others.
High Court judge James Makau, in an appeal where a man was contesting a conviction of alleged incest with a cousin by the Magistrates Court, found that the Sexual Offences Act does not mention cousin among the list of relatives under the offence of incest.
Justice Makau ruled that the National Assembly did not leave out the clause on cousins by intention but by the fact that in some cultures in Kenya – such as Hindus and Muslims – and some African communities, sexual acts between cousins are not criminalised.
The accused person, named in the court’s verdict as WOO, was arrested and subsequently charged in 2014 for allegedly engaging in sex with a 16-year-old girl knowing that she was his cousin.
He denied the claims and the case went to full hearing after which the lower court found him guilty of incest and slapped him with 10 years in prison.