The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has kicked off a countrywide public participation exercise to collect Kenyans’ views on the proposed Intersex persons bill, 2023.
KNCHR director, Anne Okutoyi said that once enacted into law, the bill will provide for the recognition, protection and safeguarding of intersex persons’ human rights in Kenya.
Speaking in Siaya town during an exercise that brought together government and non-government actors, Okutoyi said that the law will further provide for equalization of opportunities, affirmative action and nondiscrimination of intersex persons.
She said the bill wants to address the whole criminal justice system and processes, including access to justice and enhancing rights of any intersex person that is in conflict with the law.
“This emanated from a case that was adjudicated in our courts where an intersex person was held at Kamiti maximum security prison and faced a myriad of violations” she said adding “it really brought to the fore the need to have an environment where any intersex person in conflict with the law is detained in a way that protects their rights”.
The director said that children born with the condition often suffer unnecessary surgeries, some of which can have long term consequences.
Okutoyi said that people living with the condition often suffer harassment and discrimination in educational institutions and work place.
Western regional KNCHR coordinator, Jacqueline Ingutia said that the country’s last population census indicated that there were 1,524 intersex persons while Siaya county had 18.
Ingutia said the journey towards enactment of the law protecting the group has been long and began with a taskforce that was formed by the office of the attorney general to look into their challenges.
“Out of the task force, an implementation committee was formed that later recommended the need for enactment of a law” she said.
Simon Emarion Lihanda, an intersex person, lamented that they have been suffering from rejection by the society that was yet to appreciate their condition.
Lihanda said that some people even harass them, seeking to see their private parts as proof of their condition.
“We are denied several opportunities just because we cannot be classified as either male or female” said Lihanda who welcomed the bill.