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Issue Number 41 • October 2013

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Widow reclaims land lost to in-laws

…By Gilbert Ochieng

I

nviolatta Awino Juma, a widow from Marachi East Location, Butula subCounty of Busia is a happy woman, thanks to legal support that saw her reclaim her matrimonial home. She recalls that how her inlaws ejected her from the home shortly after her husband’s death in 2003. Flanked by her five children, the widow recounted the painful experience in the hands of her in-laws who ganged up against her a few days after the death of her beloved husband, Juvenalis Onyango Omoto. They forced her out of the matrimonial home with her children. As if that was not enough, the in-laws, one of them a teacher at a local primary school, another one a businessman at the local market and another one, an employee at the defunct County Council of Busia proceeded to demolish her kitchen and house where the children had been sleeping.

“Before evicting me and my children from the home, my inlaws harvested the maize in my farm which they sold after which they ploughed the entire homestead and later planted crops,” said Awino. The move forced her to stay in a sugarcane plantation for a couple of days. With nowhere to turn to, Awino decided to seek the assistance of the area chief who blatantly refused to come to her aid and instead supported the in-laws. “My hopes to have the chief resolve the matter were dashed when he told me off saying his hands are tied and that he was not in a position to help me because according to their culture I had no right to own land at my matrimonial home,” recalls Awino.

Option The chief advised her that the only option left was for her to pack up and go back to her father’s home. After failing to get assistance from the chief, the des-

perate widow opted to seek redress from the District Officer. Her efforts did not bear any fruit as the area chief had fed him with falsehoods. “The District Officer who seemed to have been fed with lies by the chief simply told me to go away with the promise that they would look into the matter later,” said Awino. However, determined to find a solution, she decided to seek assistance from Rural Education Enhancement Programme (REEP) a nongovernmental human rights organisation operating in the Inviolata Awino, a widow, area under the directorship of pointing at her shamba that Mary Makokha. her in-laws had attempted to After narrating her story, the organization hired a lawyer grab following the death of her who quickly filed the case before husband. Below: She is holding a Busia court. The Court ruled one of her children outside their in her favour and she was able to house. Pictures: Gibert Ochieng reclaim the three acre parcel of land owned by the husband. ment Programme has pledged Awino’s case typifies myr- to continue to fight for the iad of human rights violations rights of the less privileged in by people who are supposed to the society especially women uphold the law. and children and shield them Rural Education Enhance- from abuse.

Is vasectomy the answer to family planning?

…By Carolyne Oyugi

W

hen Kenya got independence 50 years ago, the population stood at 8.1million people only. The population has however grown by 432 percent over the years. According to World Bank, from 1960 until 2012, Kenya Population averaged 22.1 Million reaching an all time high of 43.2 Million in December of 2012 and a record low of 8.1 Million in December of 1960. World Bank further explains that the population of Kenya represents 0.60 percent of the world´s total population which arguably means that one person in every 168 people on the planet is a resident of Kenya.

Reality These are not just figures but a reflection of what is happening on the ground and what is expected in the future. For a government to properly plan for its citizens the population should have enough resources to support it. Kenyans are however scrambling over natural resources like land, job opportunities and facilities like schools and hospitals. These figures have been a headache to the government and some efforts have been put in terms of family planning. As much as the government has come up with many family planning programs there are still many challenges with funding and the uptake of contraceptives. In July 2011, 185 MPs met in Mombasa and adopted the “Kenya’s Draft National Policy on population 2011-2030”. Kenya parliament passed the session paper no 3 of 2012 on population and national development which limits family size. Year in and year out, Kenyan government ministries including the Ministry of Health (MOH) present their budget proposals, supposedly based on

the priorities and needs of the Kenyan population. In fact, the government developed a National Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan 2010-2015 to reposition family planning within the national development agenda. This plan however seems unrealistic and does not achieve its objective of guiding the budgeting process for contraceptives. Looking at the recent trends in budget allocation and expenditures towards family planning and contraceptives in Kenya, the funds allocated are meager and nowhere near the proposed plans. Moreover, the funds for 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 financial years have been constant at Kshs 575,025,000 (approximately $6.5 million), with Kshs 522,750,000 ($5.9 million) allocated towards procurement of contraceptives and Kshs 52,275,000 ($589,000) allocated towards distribution of family planning. This flat funding begs the question of whether the government is serious about providing family planning services to all women and men. Research conducted by Health Rights Advocacy Forum (HERAF) on the government investment toward contraceptives found that the contraceptive budgeting process by the Ministry of Health, Department of Reproductive Health (DRH), and development partners tend to be dictated by bureaucratic processes. These results in budgets based on inadequate revenue and budget ceilings not on DRH key priorities.

Benefits According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2008-2009 (KDHS), about 25 percent of married women want to prevent pregnancy but need contraception. Add this to the 46 percent who currently use family planning, and more than 70 percent of married women in Kenya want to limit or space their pregnancies. As

the trend toward smaller families continues and the number of women of reproductive age increases, the number of women using or desiring family planning will rise. Dr. Charles Ochieng’ however thinks that the solution to family planning problems is Vasectomy. He further explains that Kenya has a Maternal Mortality rate of 440/100000 live births and 24 percent of it is caused by bleeding. “The worst part of it is that 45 percent of these pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted according to KDHS 2009” he says. Dr. Ochieng’ who has also undergone vasectomy is saddened by the fact that the burden of family planning is left to women alone. “99.9percent of family planning is done by women alone and yet reproduction is a partnership of both man and woman” The father of two describes the other methods of family planning as biased towards women and against the spirit of social justice. Contraceptives, he says also has side effects and women at times fail to com-

Dr. Charles Ochieng (in a grey t-shirt) explaining the process of vasectomy to the public in Kisumu. Picture: Courtesy ply with the prescriptions especially for the everyday pills. “The contraceptives are also costly and are at times unavailable due to erratic supplies. BTL is more invasive than vasectomy. The women methods only protect one woman. Vasectomy protects wife plus more.” On the other hand the medic says that vasectomy is affordable, effective and permanent hence it gives one a chance to focus on career and family. “It shows deep commitment to relationship and partner and it is for responsible men” he said adding that mental freedom can enhance sexual performance. Other reasons why Dr. Ochieng’ is full of praises for this method which he has been campaigning for around the country are that it is the safest method known: no hormones, no opening abdomen, one kit can be used on thousands of men, it is autoclavable and after training any health care provider can perform it. If this process is this good then

why the low use of 0.1 percent only? Dr Ochieng’ attributes this to the lack of knowledge about the process that has given room to myths and misconceptions around it. Some of the myths are that it is castration, it makes people fat, it is for the educated, it is painful it is a breach of privacy and so many others that he says are all wrong. Dr Ochieng’ explains that the clients he has attended to are from all walks of life. Majority of them however do it due to economic burden that comes with a large family. Others do it due to the negative side effects of the Hormonal methods and majority are aged between 30 to 40 years. Vasectomy has however been embraced in other countries like Rwanda who are offering the services for free in public hospitals and the turn up is ‘impressive’ according to Dr. Ochieng. The procedure has become common such that the world marks World Vasectomy Day every 18th October.

Kenyan Woman Issue 41  

October 2013 Issue | The Kenyan Woman newspaper is a monthly publication of African Woman & Child Feature Service.

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