Task-force on Policy, Legal, Institutional and Administrative Reforms regarding Intersex persons.

The taskforce was established by the  Attorney General vide gazette notice no. 4904 on 26th May 2017, with an initial term of 6 months which was subsequently extended and shall expire in October, 2018.

The expected outputs from the Taskforce in fulfillment of its mandate will include;

  1. A detailed report on
  • the number, distribution and challenges of Intersex persons,
  • a comparative analysis of approaches to care, treatment and protection of intersex persons,
  • an analysis of the policy, legal, medical, administrative and/or institutional frameworks governing structures and systems with regard to Intersex persons
  • recommended reforms to safeguard the interests of intersex persons and
  •  a prioritized implementation matrix based on the immediate, medium and long term reforms governing the intersex persons

The National Commission has continued to play an active role as a member and a joint secretary to the Taskforce by coordinating funding and implementation of the activities of the taskforce in partnership with other members and partners like OSIEA and IDLO.

Nevertheless, the  National Commission did conclude a research which was undertaken on the rights of intersex persons and published a report titled Equal in Dignity and Rights – Promoting the Rights of Intersex Persons in Kenya’ which was published in May, 2018; this report has been tabled before the said Taskforce in support of its work.

The Taskforce with the support of 3 legal researchers and a lead consultant hired with the support of our development partner-IDLO; has conducted desk top research. This includes a comparative analysis of approaches to care, treatment and protection of intersex persons as well as an analysis of the policy, legal, medical, administrative and/or institutional frameworks governing structures and systems with regard to Intersex persons and compiled the same in a report. Further the taskforce members were supported with a 2 day retreat in order to interact with the said report in pursuit of understanding the practice by different jurisdictions before data collection commences.

The taskforce has been received support from our other development partner -OSIEA, which will facilitate data collection process, despite limited funds the support received will be utilized through hiring of 20 data collectors/analysts who have been recruited already, trained and now about to be deployed in the 10 clusters which have mapped out all the 47 counties for ease of access and fair distribution in data collection. In furtherance of its mandate, the Taskforce therefore seeks support in the following areas;

  1. Support to the taskforce members to participate in data collection processes which will lead to compilation of comprehensive data on the number, distribution and challenges of Intersex persons.
  2. Support to the taskforce members to undertake regional visits to institutions that have interacted with the intersex persons such as the academic, children institutions, prisons, religious places and also hold stakeholder engagements with these key duty bearers.
  3.  Support the media advocacy strategies to sensitize the public on Intersex persons. The Taskforce   would like to use the mainstream media and the local radio stations to sensitize the public about intersex persons. This was done before but on a small scale and the impact was positive as journalist like Rose Wangui came up with documentary about intersex persons dubbed ‘Born in Between; the challenges of Intersex Persons In Kenya.’ among others. This advocacy would come in handy to supplement data collection process and encourage parents and intersex persons to come out and participate in the process without being stigmatized and encourage public memoranda.
  4. Consultative meetings with the legislature i.e. Members of Parliament and County Government representatives. The Taskforce members with the assistance of researchers proposes to facilitate consultative meetings with members of parliament and county government representatives to seek their input on proposed reforms as well as sensitize them on Intersex persons.

Expected output of the Promotion of intersex persons rights project:

  1. Compilation of data on Intersex persons in Kenya.
  2. Formulation of comprehensive reform recommendations to safeguard the interests of Intersex persons based on a prioritized implementation matrix.
  3. Increased public awareness on the existence and challenges faced by intersex persons.

The National Commission and the Task Force takes seriously the overarching principle of the best interests of the child, which forms the basis of all its work in regards to intersex children in line with the  African Committee of Experts on the rights and welfare of the Child(ACERWC) statement that “the realization of all children’s rights is grounded on four key principles namely, the principles of non-discrimination (Article 3); the best interests of the child (Article 4(1)); the child’s right to life, survival and development (Article 5) and the right of the child to be heard - participation (Art 4(2) & 7).”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has issued a Comment on the meaning of the best interests of the child and the interplay between a child’s best interests and these other rights. It would be very helpful if the Committee of Experts would issue a similar general comment on the principle of the best interests of the child and the child’s right to be heard, particularly in the context of African intersex children and consent to “corrective surgery”, specifically addressing the issue of cultural norms/expectations around sex and gender, particularly as related to ‘harmful practices’, and giving guidance on situations where the child’s best interests may conflict with the views of the parents, guardians or other authorities. Another reference in this respect is the CRC and CEDAW Joint General Comment on Harmful Practices (November 2014). The move by the committee above will ensure that no child is left behind.

With respect to CSOs, NHRIs and Member States, it would be most helpful if these would assist with public sensitization on the intersex condition, its uniqueness and distinction from issues of gender identity and sexuality, and the rights of intersex children to participate fully in society as any other child. With respect to the intersex condition, CSOs, NHRIs and Member States should take measures to avoid the narrative of pathologisation by specifically dispelling the myth that intersex children are ‘abnormal’ or suffer from an illness or disability.