October | 2015 |

Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Imprisoned and Forgotten; Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Prisoners

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Whenever we talk about population and development, we think of the free man, the strolling woman, the sex worker, the married man, sometimes the adolescent and the young person. But never do we stop for a moment and think about the prisoner.

They are locked, so why would we even think about issues such as their sexual and reproductive health and rights? Why should it be even be an issue considering they do not have access to their sexual partners? They are surely not engaging in risky sexually behaviors since they are confined, right?

Wrong.

Increase in the high number of HIV/AIDS incidences in prisons tells us otherwise. The reality is that men having sex with men, either consensually or through force is a damning reality in our prisons. Without basic facilities like condoms, these are key populations that we cannot afford to forget.

The Kenyan law prohibits sex in prison and conjugal visits. A man having a sexual relation with a fellow man is also illegal and if caught one could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison. This is the reason as to why the inmates will never want to admit openly that they are practicing these acts and that they need help.

Article 43(1a) of the Kenya constitution guarantees all Kenyans the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care. Everyone doesn’t mean some people, it includes all of us.Yet the reality is that these group of people are often assumed and or ignored in provision of sexual and reproductive health services and information.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights. Everyone is entitled to these rights. Policy makers have to understand that prevention is better than cure and should include men having sex with fellow men in  programs such as HIV Programs. Article 27(4) off the constitution says the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.

This is crucial if we are to achieve the economic and social pillars of Vision 2030.

The government should also abolish prohibitive laws which cripples the fight against HIV/AIDS among the key populations such as men having sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users as per the Melbourne Declaration.

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Meaningfully Engage the Youth in Budget Making Process

Category : Naya Blog

By Simyu Jacktone

 

Devolution was to bring governance and services closer to the people. These services were however anchored in the divided functions between the national government and the county budgets.

It therefore doesn’t make sense that national functions like Education and Security should receive the highest share of the county budgets, yet devolved function like access to health care services are not prioritized in county budgets.

As young people we have our interests too in the budget. But do we come out clearly and give out our views? Do we say we want more youth centers and more opportunities at education, entrepreneurship and involvement?

With Kenya allocating over 291 billion to counties in the 2015/2016 financial year coupled with reports that resources are not being applied according to law such as Nyamira County building a hospital gate worth 7 million and yet the hospital is not even fenced, Bungoma County purchasing wheelbarrows at ksh. 109,000 each, county opening Facebook accounts for millions of shillings and much more, the importance of participation of citizens on the budget making process is becoming clearer by the day.

The constitution of Kenya 2010, focus power around the people and the articles 10, 196 and 201 of the constitution provide public participation as the guiding principle of the constitution, therefore the process of budget tracking can and should be done by the general public and other entities required by the law bringing in the element of public participation in budget making and review.

Other than public participation during the planning of the budget, we should also know that there other parts of budgeting process which requires our concern. We should follow and seek information to know how the implementation of the budget is progressing as article 35 of Kenyan constitution gives us right to access to information.

Like in Homabay county health has always been given first priority by having allocations of 1.3 billion and 1.4 billion during the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 financial years respectively. This has always been done with aims of increasing immunization coverage, reduce mortality rates, increase community access to health services , reduce the burden communicable diseases, implement county master plan for health, build modern maternity wards, ICU and cancer center and to enhance reproductive health.

But why don’t we even have one public youth friendly facility in Homa bay?

Why do we still lack most important reproductive health services within Homa bay level 4 hospital which lacks even gloves and cotton wools? Why do our mothers still die while giving birth? Statistics says over 19,370 children live with HIV but only 6330 are receiving ARTs.

So has our budget allocations on health been fully implemented? My answer would be no. That’s why we should also be involved and put our leaders on toes to see that our budget is fully implemented as allocated.

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I wish I Talked to my Daughter about Sex

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Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

I pity Baba Florence each and every time I see him. He is very close friend of mine and a neighbor   in Seme.

He used to brag to me a lot about his daughter. He would tell me of how his daughter was passing with flying colors in class, how his daughter had big dreams of becoming a nurse and make a difference in her village. He would tell me of how teachers praised her daughter each and every time he went to visit her.

To him everything seemed perfect.

Despite being very poor he gave his daughter everything she needed. I remember some time back he had to skip breakfast and lunch for a week just to save enough money to buy her daughter a new pair of uniform.

He really loved his daughter so much

He thought he had done everything that he needed to do as a father and as a parent. She was her only hope.

It was not long until Baba Florence got a heartbreaking news from her daughter who was sent away from school by the head teacher of ochok kadongo primary school. Florence was pregnant, at 15!

Baba Florence was so shocked that he collapsed.

He could not believe what her daughter uttered to him.

“Why is God punishing me this way he cried out loud? Haven`t I suffered enough God? You have put me in poverty and now you bring shame to me? Why my daughter? Why my only hope?”

Baba Florence was so heartbroken he turned to his daughter as tears cascaded down his cheeks, “my daughter why are you so ungrateful? Why decide to repay me this way after all the struggle and suffering I have gone through just because of you.”

Baba Florence did not want to be the laughing stock in the village so he decided to give away his only daughter to his relatives who live in Nyamasaria, the other side of Kisumu County, to take care of her.

Florence would deliver safely and join the Teen Moms Of Seme Club, but she would never see the inside of a classroom again.

Her dream was shuttered completely

Baba Florence gnashes his teeth wishing he had talked to his lovely daughter about sex.

“If only my love would have extended to provision of sexuality information……,” his voice trails off.

Parents have a huge role to play in providing sex education to their children. They should never shy away when it comes to discussing sex related issues with their children.

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