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Gov’t keen to address plight of intersex persons

The government is committed to sensitising the communities on matters regarding intersex to ensure the group is not discriminated against in society.

Kisumu County Commissioner (CC) Josephine Ouko made the remarks during a meeting with Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNCHR) officials and other stakeholders at the Lakeside County.

The Commissioner affirmed that her office would do all that is humanly possible to create awareness among the locals in matters regarding the minority group.

Ouko lauded the efforts by the KNCHR to provide a platform for the discussion to enlighten them noting that there is very little information concerning these people in the public domain.

“We are quite appreciative of this opportunity because as it is we really had very little information yet there is much to be done for this group of people,” mentioned Ouko.

She also noted that from how the community has been viewing the minority group, some people have not been in a position to understand their condition, stand out and be bold about their nature.

“I’m sure there are thousands of intersex people in this county who are not able to come out. Some have not been able to understand themselves so that they can come out in the society,” noted the Commissioner.

The CC stated that the group goes through a lot in silence but the community should instead focus on how to strengthen them and deal with them just like other human beings.

“If you sit down with them, they will tell you the challenges they are facing, and they are real challenges that we cannot run away from. We only need to appreciate them more and see how best we can deal with them because at the end of the day they are part of the community and also have human rights,” she stated.

“That is why we asked the KNCHR to start with us and make us understand who these people are, get us well equipped to inform the general public accordingly and make them comprehend the nature of this minority group,” she added.

Ouko added that the community should incorporate them as members without any bias, since they are also productive and engage in development activities that lead to the country’s economic growth.

“We need to integrate them properly within our societies. They also contribute to this nation. This is a new thing that we want to push forward and mainstream in anything that we do. Their situation is natural and occurs at birth and not a lifestyle,” added Ouko.

“We have criminalized them most of the time, but now we want to understand and embrace them so that we put them in the right places so that they can contribute to the productivity of the county and country at large,” she said.

Dr Dennis Wamalwa, one of the commissioners of KNCHR, appreciated the CC and her team for the forum to help advocate for the protection of the rights of intersex persons.

“It’s a great privilege having the county commissioner and the chiefs and other administrators because they are the ones who can easily get in touch with the local citizens and have these discussions,” stated Wamalwa.

Beryl Orao, a senior staff of KNCHR Western Region, stated that after the training and awareness on the administrators, it was now upon them to use the knowledge imparted to sensitise the community.

“We have called administrators from the National Government and our discussion focuses on intersex persons. We created awareness on who these people are, and how they can come in to support the rights of the intersex,” stated Orao.

Orao further said that the commission aimed at having a majority of the county’s population enlightened on the nature of the minority group and be able to know how to deal with them so as to reduce stigmatisation and discrimination.

“What we basically want to have is as many people as possible within Kisumu County getting to know who intersex persons are because it will help a great deal in reducing stigma,” she added.

Orao expressed confidence that having a combined effort with the National Government officers at the county level and the County government will bear fruits in reaching a large population.

“We believe the chiefs and their assistants, the deputy county commissioners, and the county government have spaces where they interact with the public on a regular basis so having them on board will help us to spread that gospel,” declared Orao.

She added that some of the intersex persons who attended the forum would give a clear picture of their real-life experiences that would effectively help the administrators understand how to handle the persons and how they can come in to support them in their line of duty.

In the 2019 National Census, Kisumu County recorded 23 Intersex, a number Orao terms too low attributing it to stigma and fear of being sidelined by the community. She also says it is very rare for their cases to come up and be handled legally.

“People who are intersex don’t want to come out boldly and speak about their condition. From 2015 to date, we have dealt with about 4 or 5 cases of intersex persons’ rights being violated,” explained Orao.

Orao appreciated the government for always chipping in when there is a need, especially for children placed in schools they actually do not fit into when joining secondary schools.

“Government entities have always come in to support us. Most of the violations are related to the right to education and we normally bring in the Ministry of Education and they are able to assist us,” she averred.

By Peter K’opiyo

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