For the first time since her independence, Kenya will collect the data on intersex people in its national population census, a move by the government which is a major victory for rights activist.
The 2019 paperless census slated on August 24 – 25, will determine the number of citizens who do not identify as either male or female.
In recent times, Intersex people have often face discrimination and violence in the socially conservative country.
The report states that there are more than 700,000 intersex people in Kenya out of a general population of 49 million.
“Getting details about intersex people in the census will help people understand the challenges we go through,” Ruth Ryan Muiruri, founder of the Intersex Persons Society of Kenya (IPSK), said as she commended the government’s decision.
“Being included in the census is a big success for us,” she added.
There have been several reports published on Intersex people in Kenya as the news of their human rights violations isn’t hidden anymore, starting from birth. There are few protections from mutilation and non-consensual cosmetic medical interventions and no legislative protection from discrimination. Intersex people may have complications in obtaining birth certificates and other forms of documentation.
In 2009, a woman appeared in court after doctors wrote a question mark instead of the type of gender on her child’s birth papers.
She requested three things: a law preventing surgery on intersex children unless it is medically necessary, identity documents for her child to be able to attend school, and proper information and psychological support for parents.
In a landmark ruling in 2014 in her favor, the High Court commanded the government to issue a birth certificate to the five-year-old child.
In addition, it instructed the attorney general to create a task force that would look at ways of providing better support for intersex children.
The report further stated that the task force handed its recommendations to the Attorney General in April. It includes delaying surgery until children can determine which sex to choose for themselves and a robust survey on numbers. Also, it recommended that an I-marker, an intersex identifier, be used in public documentation.
An umbrella term is used to describe people who are born with biological variations in their sex characteristics that don’t fit typical male or female categories.
There are many possible variations, involving ovaries and testicles, genitalia, chromosome patterns and hormones
According to the United Nation expertise, between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits.