The Passionate Plea of a Patriotic Kenyan

As Kenyans head to the polls on Monday 4th March, 2013, it is not unusual for minds to go back to the happenings of 2007. True to his nature Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng does not sit back and watch events unfold but proactively contributes in shaping the process. Here is a plea he has for all Kenyans to vote and make a difference in the country. If we cannot vote, we can get those who can vote to do so and make the much needed difference.

PLEASE ASK KENYANS TO GET OUT AND VOTE ON Monday March 4th 2013

Hi
My name is Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng. Also Known As Okwaroh Ja’Paprombe on face book. I blog at Okwarohztake. I have a thousand plus friends on facebook, I follow many noble and interesting people on twitter and they follow me as well. I have over 300 connections on linked in, and have close to a thousand people in my circles on Google plus. I have travelled the world and met awesome people, made friends, classmates, workmates …

Folks am afraid but I have to do this. It is the least I can do to my country right now. My country Kenya is at cross roads. We are less than 24 hours into an extremely important general election. An election that demands of us to deal with a problematic past and juggle the promises and challenges that the future holds. It boils down to folks getting out as many a possible to VOTE. To vote enough to enable us distinguish a clear winner. Going by opinion polls that have run in the past 3 months – the race pits two arch rivals with strong personal and emotive opposing opinions that is cannon fodder for violence and ethnic animosity. Or people are reeling from the aftermath of the 2007 general election when unfortunate events led to peace-loving citizens taking arms against one another, killing over 1000 innocent people, displacing over half a million from their homes, destroying property worth trillions and crippling an economy that was in the path towards double digit growth.

I am writing to ask you that PLEASE. if you know a Kenyan, if you have any one of them in your networks (facebook, twitter, linkedin, Google+, foursquare, badoo, etc) – PLEASE ask them to get out on Monday 4th March and VOTE. If they are out there in the Diaspora, kindly ask them to spread this message to their constituencies.

Africa must indeed live up to its true potential. It begins with having civilised political transitions. We need Kenyans to get out and VOTE because if they don’t, we are headed into a RUN-OFF that is bound to be too costly in terms of resources and in terms of undermining the progress we have made in the difficult past 5 years reforming our institutions, working to reengineer our nationhood and building a responsive 21st century state.

We have already expended way above our means as a nation in real investment towards reforming the electoral process, the judiciary and internal security regime. The campaigns alone have been perversely expensive and have had significant impact on the economy already.

A run-off puts Kenya in a one month limbo when everything and anything could happen. It is appreciably an uneasy calm and we are doing our best to preach peace – but the run-off will sure ignite emotions, tension and will polarise Kenya in unprecedented measures.

As a nation we have brokered peace around the world – in South Sudan, spearheaded the renaissance of Somalia and are a beacon of regional stability, political tranquillity and economic prosperity in the East African region. Kenya calls on you to at least return a favour at this moment of need.

If you love Kenya – 1) Our beautiful sceneries – the great Mount Kenya, our cosy beaches in Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi; 2) Our rich heritage – the lion daring Maasai; 3) Our beautiful city in the Sun Nairobi where life never stops; 4) Our thrilller rugby 7s team, 5) our resillient athletes. If you love Peace, If you want prosperity and stability in East Africa, Africa and the world.

PLEASE ASK KENYANS TO GET OUT AND VOTE ON Monday March 4th 2012.

Thank you. Yours truly
Okwaroh Ja’ paprombe —–>http://bit.ly/YeTkwz

And please if you do not like my message, be the gentleman or lady and just overlook it

 

War Against Women Rages on as Kenyan women forcibly sterilised for having HIV

 

A few weeks ago, I published here a debate on weather contraceptives for Africa was a misplaced priority. While some sceptical persons like myself were of the opinion that Africa needed more education rather than pills, there were some who thought we were denying women their rights. Looking at this disturbing story by Maeve McClenaghan, I could not help but wonder.

Women deserve the right to Choose

Is there really a war against Africa’s future going on under the guise of protecting women?

If women can be sterilised without their knowledge, even when they are not at risk of having many kids, does that not account to the worst violations of their rights?

With NGOs like the US-based  Project Prevention  paying women living with HIV to have intrauterine birth control devices implanted, who is to say that the whole rhetoric about birth control in Africa is not clearly another silent war against the continent?

I am sure by the time you finish reading this story, you will ask many more questions – so happy reading!!!

They say “NO TO FORCED STERILISATION”

When she went to hospital to give birth Amani had a lot on her mind. Not only are maternal mortality rates in Kenya worryingly high but during an ante-natal check-up Amani had been told that she was HIV positive. The expectant mother was reassured that delivering the baby by caesarean section was the safest way to avoid transmission of the virus to her child. So as she was wheeled in to the operating theatre she could be forgiven for thinking she was in safe hands. But her trust was misplaced. During the procedure, and without her knowledge or authorisation, Amani was sterilised.

She only ever found out what had happened by chance. ‘I discovered that tubal ligation had been done when I took my baby to the clinic after delivery,’ Amani said. ‘The nurse requested me to allow her to examine my wound, and in the process a colleague passed by and asked how the tubal ligation scar was healing. I did not know about it and only thought they had cut me because I was having a baby.’

Amani’s is not an isolated case. A new report by NGO African Gender and Media Initiative details 40 case studies of Kenyan women who have undergone forced or coerced sterilisation because they were HIV positive.

‘I thought they had cut me because I was having a baby’
Amani

The report makes shocking reading, some women find their husbands signing the medical papers, allowing doctors to perform the irreversible procedure to tie their fallopian tubes. Others unwittingly sign documents thrust in front of them during the chaos of labour, only to later discover what they had signed up to.

Several of the women interviewed reported being mistreated by the health care workers trained to support them. Nekeska gave birth in 2008 at Kakamega General Hospital. There she faced a barrage of abuse. According to Nekeska the doctor told her ‘It is an offence for women who are HIV positive to have children’ and said she was told she could only have the baby she was due to deliver if she agreed to be sterilized. Nekeska put up a fight and refused to sign the consent papers, but was sterilised anyway.

Many of the women coerced or forced into sterilisation report finding themselves ostracized, cast out from their martial homes with the double burden of infertility and their HIV status. Amani’s husband died of Aids in 2004 leaving her and her daughter. ‘In the last few years I have had three suitors but I had to stop the relationships because if I get married to them, then I will be abandoned when they discover I cannot have children’, she said.

According to the 2007 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey nearly one out of every ten pregnant women in Kenya is infected with HIV. Children less than 15 years of age account for 16 percent of all HIV infections; most of these infections were acquired through mother-to-child transmission. However, the chances of HIV transmission from mother to baby can be virtually eliminated through use of anti-retroviral drugs during pregnancy and labour, and by delivering the baby via Caesarian section.

NGO involvement
The report follows a Kenyan television news report in January which claimed that a US-based organisation Project Prevention was paying women living with HIV to have intrauterine birth control devices implanted. The Kenyan government reacted angrily to the news with the minister for medical services, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, announcing ‘It is important to stress that even HIV-positive women have the right to have children if and when they desire. HIV doesn’t take that right away, not at all.’

However it is both local health care workers and international NGOs that are implicated in this new report. Provision from Medicin Sans Frontier and Marie Stopes is mentioned in some of the women’s testimony.

Betty discovered she was HIV positive in 1993. She had just given birth to her fourth baby when community health workers visited her home and she claims she was then asked to accompany them to meet Marie Stopes doctors. Hoping she might receive financial assistance from the NGO she went along to the mobile clinic. Betty reports that there she was given forms to sign but she says ‘No one told me what I was signing for. I thought it was part of the registration.’ She was then operated on. After the procedure she was told community health workers had earmarked her as someone who should be sterilised because she was HIV positive and had no husband or income.

Marie Stopes responded to the report stating that ‘The process described by Betty is absolutely contrary to Marie Stopes International’s values, policy and practice on informed consent. We take any non-compliance on this issue extremely seriously.’ The NGO goes on to state that some of the case studies highlight that the sexual health body can ‘work with organisations who refer clients to Marie Stopes Kenya to strengthen their policies and practices around informed consent, and this is something we will seek to do immediately.’

A growing trend?
This is not the first time the issue of forced sterilisation has made the news. In June The Lancet reported on a government led sterilisation drive is Uzbekistan designed to control population growth. According to the report doctors received monthly sterilisation quotas and admited to tricking or pressuring women into the decision, or performing the operation without their consent, during caesarian sections.

The Uzbeki government firmly denied the reports.