Monthly Archives: March 2017

We Must Target the Origins of Homophobic Violence: Religion and Culture

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Image Courtesy: Advocate.Com

Homophobia is among the major issues affecting Kenyans today. If we are to make meaningful strides, we must also address societal and contexts that create and fuel homophobia in the Kenyan society.

Research has shown that, acts of abuse and violence against LGBT people are a clear symptom of a broader societal problem that must be treated structurally if we are to ever succeed in reducing and eradicating violence against LGBT people in the country.

Homophobic beliefs drive homophobic conduct that occurs in all domains of societal life: at home, at school, in politics, on television, on the Internet, in churches, in organizations, at work and on the streets.

In Kenya, 96 % of its residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept. Traditional religious and cultural values play a substantial role in these figures. Leaders within the three dominate religions in Kenya, Catholic, Anglican and Islamic, condemn homosexuality and transgenderism as signs of decadence, disease, and immorality.

Any discussion about homophobia in Kenya must absolutely reference religion and culture. In general, Religion and culture have played a key role in the fueling of homophobia throughout society. Religious leaders and traditional leaders in Kenya continue to teach extremely negative views about homosexuality and gay people and have taken on an almost national leadership role in the demonization of gay people under the veil of religion.

People who are born into certain religious and cultural environments and grow up hearing toxic anti-gay messages develop negative views about the LGBT. Young and impressionable minds can internalize the notion that gay people are inferior and that homosexuality is an “abomination,” something unnatural and deviant. This infecting of the mind with distorted and false information is an extremely powerful process and in many cases lays the foundation for future anti-LGBT abuse and violence.

Article 32 of the Kenyan constitution provides the “right and freedom of religion.” Well that should also include freedom from religion. I believe that the religious and cultural views of the “majority” should not be used to oppress the minority.

While those who practice particular religions are free to believe whatever they wish to believe and express their views, freedom of expression as stated in article 33 of the Kenyan constitution does not extend to incitement to violence, hate speech or advocacy of hatred that— (i) constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or (ii) is based on any ground of discrimination specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4) of the Kenyan Constitution. Furthermore article 33 states that, in the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, every person shall respect the rights and reputation of others.

Any effort to seriously reduce or eradicate homophobic abuse and violence in society must address the roles that religion and culture play in the development and fueling of homophobic messages about LGBT people. Together we can defeat the forces of hate and in the process create a better society and world for everyone.


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Why We Must Prioritize Non Communicable Disease Prevention and Control

Category : Naya Blog

By DICKSON OLUOCH  (@dicque2)

Non-Communicable Diseases are not transferred from one person to another hence, they are acquired as a result of people’s lifestyle being classified as ‘rare’ diseases that affect both the rich and old, Non-Communicable Diseases are increasingly establishing themselves as global terrorist, especially among the middle and low-income nations mostly affecting adolescents and youths. According to World Health Organization statistics, 30% premature deaths in adults results from behavior that begun in adolescent and 30% of deaths in Kenya are due to Non-Communicable Diseases which translates to 72 deaths in a day as a result of cancer and other diseases such as Cardiovascular diseases (46%), respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Non-Communicable Diseases depletes family and community resources with the huge medical fees and generally leaving a trail of low economic productivity and development, increasing dependency burden as a result of deaths and reduces the quality care life expectation .The constitution (Chapter 43, 1a, 1b) guarantees one to attaining the highest attainable standard of healthcare looks more than good mirage never to be achieved as most cases are referred to outside countries for treatment.

Young people must be meaningfully involved in the battle against non-communicable diseases, not just as a constitutional right but as an important part of society, and with more knowledge and internalize the effects of NCDs and what exactly affects them. This can be achieved by increased advocacy, public support-stakeholders, strengthening legal and policy environment and also advocacy for integration of NCDs and Youth Friendly Services (YFS).The media is critical in the fight against non-communicable diseases. Effective use of media will not only generate public support for increased prioritization of NCDs,

There is a need to increase domestic resource allocation for prevention, control, and management of these diseases, the major risk factors of NCDs are physical inactivity, poor diet, tobacco and alcohol use are highly modifiable at the individual level, there is a need for increased prioritization by policy makers to tackle non-communicable diseases. Effectively engagement in budget-making process for the upcoming financial years at County level including in key process of developing County Integrated Development Plans, Strategies, at the National level will lead to allocation of more funds towards NCDs and provision of highly accessible, affordable and available services to all its citizens by 2030 achieving the global Sustainable Development Goal number 3 on Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.

Civil society organizations, stakeholders and young people must now effectively mobilize themselves in the fight against NCDs by increasing NCDs advocacy, creating awareness, adhering to good nutrition which is a big contributing factor, investing in research on NCDs to have adequate data, awareness on drug and substance abuse, coming up with strong and good policies and legal environment on NCDs.

The author is a Youth Advocate with NAYA KENYA


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