Kenya: Groups Want Kenya Out of Deal 'Unfair' to Women

26 November 2020

In recent weeks, the country has witnessed a heated debate on the right to health for women as the Senate went into the second reading of the Reproductive Healthcare Bill.

What has been a bone of contention in the Bill is the right to access to sexual and reproductive healthcare as well as the termination of pregnancy which has led to many inaccurately branding it as the 'abortion Bill' . Unsafe abortion remains a leading cause of deaths and injuries related to pregnancy in Kenya.

As the debate on reproductive health rages, a different battle is taking place on the sidelines. Some 21 civil society groups have petitioned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to immediately withdraw Kenya from the Geneva Consensus Declaration.

Thirty-three nations, including Kenya, signed the declaration - which was co-sponsored by the US, Brazil, Uganda, Egypt, Hungary and Indonesia on October 22.

The lobbies say the proclamation developed and championed by the US government, is aimed at eroding human rights, particularly the sexual and reproductive health rights of women.

In a statement, the charities say despite being a Permanent Representative to the UN, the move by Kenya has traded the fundamental rights and lives of Kenyan women by aligning with this coalition in direct opposition to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Extremist agenda

They say the decision is seen as a move to restrict safe abortion, undermine the rights of women to their bodies, and will have dire effects.

Jedidah Maina, the executive director of Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health, says:"President Uhuru Kenyatta last year at the ICPD vowed to protect Kenyan women and girls. Our government is now playing politics with our lives and health by cosying up to an extremist agenda by the US. We will not be tradeoffs. Withdraw this co-signing."

Linda Kroeger, the programme officer (sexual and reproductive health) at Kenya Legal and Ethical Issues Network on HIV and Aids says the document directly contradicts Kenya's UN commitments.

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