Karen Campus Hosts Seminar on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights

Principal Karen Campus, Prof. Hellen Mberia and Head of political affairs section, Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Julia Tyssen untie the ribbon to officially launch the report

The JKUAT legal clinic, in collaboration with the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany and Amka Africa Justice Initiative, hosted a one-day symposium for law students on the rights of intersex individuals to health care. A baseline report on the same was also launched during the occasion.

The event sought to raise awareness of intersex people, to comprehend and accept their presence, and foster discourse on the report titled ‘Not Broken, Do Not Fix.’

A person who is intersex is born with biological characteristics from both sexes. They may have characteristics of both or their genitalia may not correspond to their reproductive organs.

Due to a lack of data on the prevalence of practices against intersex people in Kenya, Amka Africa Justice Initiative conducted a baseline study in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kilifi Counties between February and April 2023, with funding from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Nairobi.

The scope of the investigation included to analyze the prevalence, nature, and impact of medical, cultural, and religious normalization of conversion techniques against intersex people in Kenya.

Being intersex is a naturally occurring variation in humans, and it isn’t a medical problem therefore medical interventions like surgeries or hormone therapy aren’t necessary.

While presenting the report, the team leader, Amka Africa Justice initiative, Ms. Milkah Wahu said the report will prove beneficial in highlighting the intersecting relations between the legal and policy framework, cultural and religious principles and the “normalization” practices against intersex children and persons so as to support policy advocacy for implementation of the Children Act 2022.

Innocent Wanyonyi and Kevin Murimi Team JKUAT receive their trophy after emerging third in the moot competition.

“The report findings will ensure the protection of intersex rights and the successful implementation of the Children’s Act 2022, which will have defined regulations that will control the widespread normalizing practices against intersex people,” Ms. Wahu stated.

She also said the report will reinforce the proposed Intersex Persons Bill that will provide comprehensive protection against all forms of normalization and framework for safeguarding social, economic and civic rights of intersex persons.

“Critical policies such as the National Reproductive Health Policy 2022-2032 should be revised to adopt a wholesome and protective definition of intersex persons, and provide for specific sexual reproductive health rights of intersex persons,” Ms. Wahu observed.

Head of political affairs section, Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Julia Tyssen said the report would assist in defending the rights of intersex people while also providing them with a forum for social acceptance.

“There is need to protect rights of the minority and especially intersex persons through research that will strengthen available policies and employ pragmatic actions that will be sustainable in the long run,” Ms. Tyssen said.

A section of the students follow the proceedings keenly

She stated that the lack of a policy framework prevents intersex people from accessing their health rights and that the study would be a critical step in resolving this.

Principal, Karen Campus, Prof. Hellen Mberia lauded the stakeholders involved in the report saying the findings would serve as a solid basis for developing legislative reforms that will grant intersex people the health rights they deserve.

“The creation of robust rules will guarantee the protection of intersex people’s rights and lay a solid framework for reducing the forms of discrimination they encounter from birth and this report will be key in this endeavor,” Prof. Mberia said.

Dr. Denis Wamalwa, Commissioner, Intersex Persons Implementation Coordination Committee (IPICC) at the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights (KNHCR), said through the commission they aim to provide equal rights to marginalized people, including intersex persons.

“IPICC is leading the charge on a draft intersex persons law through KNHCR that will enhance the rights of intersex people. I hope it will come to pass and safeguard these people’s rights,” Dr. Wamalwa who is also an intersex person stated.

He is hopeful for a better future in which intersex persons may live in harmony with the rest of society, benefit from equal opportunities, and live fulfilling lives.

The seminar was followed by a moot court competition on the issue of intersex health rights. Students from four universities namely JKUAT, University of Nairobi, Africa Nazarene University, and Embu University competed in the moot court.

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