DISCRIMINATION

Intersex bigotry still rampant, laments KNCHR

In Summary
  • It emerged that the government has not fully recognised intersex people as it has not provided special facilities for them
  • Benson said he changed schools five times before completing secondary education
KNCHR senior human rights officer Amos Wanyoike during a forum in Murang’a to educate the public on the rights of intersex persons on October 7, 2021.
KNCHR senior human rights officer Amos Wanyoike during a forum in Murang’a to educate the public on the rights of intersex persons on October 7, 2021.
Image: KNA
Living as an intersex person in this country is a big challenge. We face stigma in the community since many people don’t understand who we are
Benson Kamau

Most intersex people are still denied key government services, the rights commission has said. 

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said this discrimination needs to stop.

The commission organised a forum in Murang'a on Thursday on the rights of intersex people.

It emerged that the government has not fully recognised intersex people as it has not provided special facilities for them.

KNCHR senior human rights officer Amos Wanyoike said intersex people have suffered when seeking education and health, among other services.

He said there is need to educate wananchi about intersex people and their rights.

Wanyoike said intersex children are humiliated by their colleagues in school.

“To help the intersex persons, we should start by having special names for them because by giving one a name of a lady which does not match the appearance or voice, exposes the person to humiliation,” he said.

Benson Kamau, an intersex, said he changed schools five times before completing secondary education.

“Every time I joined secondary school, I was humiliated since other students could not understand my physical appearance, looking like a girl yet I had a male name. My nature also caused my parents to divorce as my father [disowned] me saying I was cursed,” Kamau said.

Even when accessing mobile money services we are treated as imposters. My identity card bears a girl’s name yet my voice is that of a man [and] I look like a boy,
Gloria Luhunga

At the workplace, colleagues discriminated against him and he eventually lost their job. 

“Living as an intersex person in this country is a big challenge. We face stigma in the community since many people don’t understand who we are,” Kamau said.

He said the government should recognise intersex as a third gender.

This was echoed by Gloria Luhunga.

Luhunga said she has struggled to prove her identity since her physical appearance differs from the details indicated on her ID.

“Even when accessing mobile money services we are treated as imposters. My identity card bears a girl’s name yet my voice is that of a man [and] I look like a boy,” she said.

Wanyoike said, “Our plea as KNCHR is also to have special schools for the intersex children because currently some intersex children have failed to get an education as they fear discrimination from other learners.”

The 2019 census found there were 1,524 intersex persons. Nairobi county had the highest number at 250.

“Murang’a county, according to the census, has 28 intersex persons but we are sure that’s not the right number as intersex persons shied off from taking part in the census,” Wanyoike said.

Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya