Kenya: Bill Protects Women From Non-Consensual Sterilisation

Senator Kihika says State must protect rights of women, girls with disabilities

Nakuru County Senator Susan Kihika is pushing for consensual sterilisation of women.

On Tuesday, Reproductive Healthcare Bill (2019), proposed by Ms Kihika, was presented for Second Reading in Parliament.

The bill, which proposes punishment for health practitioners involuntarily sterilising the women also seeks to protect HIV positive women and girls, as well as those living with disabilities, from abuse.

Ms Kihika recommends a five-year jail term; a Sh2 million fine or both.

"There is a need to protect the rights of persons of child-bearing age by outlawing sterilisation of persons without prior consent," she said while tabling the bill.

She observed the urgency of a legislative framework distinctly criminalising forced sterilisation.

She said Senate's Committee against Torture had in 2013 raised concern over HIV positive women and those with disabilities being sterilised without prior informed consent.

"The committee urged the State to strengthen its efforts to investigate allegations over involuntary sterilisations or other harmful practices in connection to reproductive health," she said.

"Further Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women raised issues with the failure to protect the health, sexual and reproductive health and rights of women with disabilities including the practice of forced sterilisation," said Ms Kihika.

WRITTEN CONSENT

As she proposes in Clause 25(1-2), a health professional will be committing a crime sterilising a woman without obtaining her written consent, counselling and explaining to her implications of the sterilisation procedure.

During 9th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights held in Nairobi in February this year, Ms Prisca Akumu, a physically challenged woman living in Kibra slums shared her experience on coerced sterilisation.

Ms Akumu was in 2007, sterilised by a doctor upon delivery of her third born on grounds of being disabled and having delivered all her three children through Caesarean Section (CS).

Ms Kihika emphasised that the State has a duty to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities, ensuring that they have equal access to health care services.

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