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?
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.
Don’t miss an update.