|Monday, 29th November, 2010|
|By Chris Kiwawulo –Newvision-Uganda
THE high number of maternal deaths is disturbing enough, but denying women reproductive health services worries them even more. And it becomes a bone of contention when women perceive such a health service to be their human right.
Women in developing countries like Uganda are on tenterhooks after research revealed that many of them are dying as a result of failing to access safe abortion services. This is because in many developing countries, abortion is illegal.
In Uganda, carrying out or procuring an abortion is a criminal offence contrary to Article 22 (2) of the Constitution.
The article says: “No person has a right to terminate the life of an unborn child except as may be authorised by law.” Therefore, a woman who aborts without authorisation has also committed an offence just like the person who has helped her abort. The penalty to the woman on conviction is 14 years imprisonment and whoever helps to procure an abortion is liable to three years’ imprisonment upon conviction.
However, such laws have come under criticism by activists and reproductive health advocates who believe access to safe abortion is a fundamental human right that should be enjoyed by women at will.
Organisations like Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), Uganda Women Network (UWONET), Ipas International and the US-based Guttmacher Institute have, therefore, stepped up the call for respecting safe abortion as a human right.
Jackie Asiimwe, the UWONET coordinator, says the Ugandan law on abortion contradicts international declarations on the right to health services like safe abortion, to which Uganda is a signatory.
“It is easy to pontificate those who abort but they still have a right to health,” Asiimwe told a dialogue on unsafe abortion from a health, human rights and policy perspective that RHU organised in Kampala recently.
Dr. Peter Ibembe, the RHU programmes director, notes that the UN Declaration on Human Rights considers reproductive health as a basic human right. Ibembe says since abortion is illegal in Uganda, women resort to crude ways of getting rid of unwanted pregnancies.
He cites drinking of turpentine, bleach, detergents or tea made with livestock manure, inserting herbal preparations into the vagina or cervix, placing foreign bodies such as sticks, coat hangers or chicken bones into the uterus and jumping from roof tops, as the crude methods women use to abort.
Ibembe says these result into complications like damage of the bladder or bowel, damage of the cervix, secondary infertility, tubal blockage, fistula, severe bleeding and sometimes death. As a solution, Ibembe says provision of high quality safe abortion services by trained service providers is crucial in reducing maternal mortality that currently stands at 435 per 100,000 live births.
Ntungamo district woman MP, Beatrice Rwakimari, says much as it might be a right for a woman to abort, the right of the unborn baby should not be overlooked. “We should not compromise the right of the mother and the baby,” she argues. “As policy makers, we need to focus on unwanted pregnancies as the first step in fighting unsafe abortion.”
Rwakimari suggests that Uganda should work on ensuring that the unmet need for contraceptive intake that stands at 41% be reduced by ensuring that more women use family planning methods to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Unmet need refers to the percentage of women who would like to be able to either space their children or stop having children but are not using contraception. Besides reducing unsafe abortions, RHU says Uganda would save $112m (sh257.6b) by investing in contraceptive commodities and services to fill the entire unmet need.
Maxwell Ogwal, a student at Gulu Medical School, who was once arrested for helping a young woman get an abortion, says women need to access safe abortion as their right to get rid of unwanted pregnancies.
“What if a woman has been raped? Doesn’t she have a right to get rid of such a pregnancy?
“I am preparing a petition that I will forward to Parliament next year on the need to legalise safe abortion in Uganda,” Ogwal told over 50 participants in a session on â€˜Unsafe abortion and young women â€” their experiences, their dreams’ at the college of physicians and surgeons in Accra, Ghana recently, where he was a presenter.
Besides local advocates, safe abortion activists from across Africa have drastically embraced the campaign. Queen Masaka Mbao, a programme officer for the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia, says as much as abortion is taboo in many African countries, including her own, it is a violation of women’s rights to deny them access to medical abortion.
“Medical abortion is part of reproductive health and should be respected just like any other form of reproductive health service.”
Mbao says outlawing safe abortion is an indirect way of encouraging unsafe abortion, thereby increasing maternal mortality, which is a violation of women’s right to life.
Like Ogwal, Mbao also attended the one-week African conference on eliminating safe abortion in Africa in Accra recently.
Blain Rezene, a youth consultant from Ethiopia, notes that abortion remains a silent issue in many African countries, and urged community-based organisations to sensitise the masses about it.
Rezene specifically called for initiation of a youth dialogue arguing that: “Some male youth believe when a girl says no to sex, she means yes. This needs to be addressed because it also leads to unwanted pregnancies.”
Dr. Eunice Brookman-Amissah, the Ipas vice-president for Africa agrees that access to contraceptives is one of the issues that can stop unsafe abortion.
She, however, notes that the average contraceptive intake in Africa is still low. The medic from Ghana reveals that accessibility to contraceptives is at 15%, compared to countries like Thailand where it is at over 70%, and therefore stresses that legalising abortion is the way to go.
What readers think
I am against the idea of making abortion a basic right. You cannot take something sensitive like abortion and make it a basic right, it will be putting people’s lives at risk. Legalising it or making it a right will lead to moral degeneration. People will be doing it freely without fearing any law and will also encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Making it a fundamental right goes against God’s word to multiply and fill the world. What if most of us had been aborted? It will be like supporting people to kill others.
If made a fundamental right, abortion will be done by many people. It is illegal, but it is still being done. In future, some women get complications, some do not even give birth. If it is made a right more of this will happen.
Abortion is illegal but some people still do it. If they make it a basic right the number of people carrying out abortion will increase and people will die. If Uganda values its people, more stringent rules should be put on abortion, instead of making it a fundamental human right.
Making abortion a fundamental right has two implications. On the positive side, school-going children who conceive while at school can use this chance to abort and go back to school and finish their studies. On the negative side, it will lead to death of our people because a person can bleed a lot during an abortion
Instead of making abortion a fundamental human right, they should promote family planning. There are several methods that can be used if a woman does not want to get pregnant. Abortion is risky. If made a basic right, women will lose their lives.
‘We will not tolerate such behaviors in the country,’ prime minister reportedly tells rally
Roberto Schmidt / AFP/Getty Images file
NAIROBI, Kenya â€” Kenya’s prime minister has said that homosexuals should be arrested, according to reports.
“We will not tolerate such behaviors in the country,” the BBC quoted Raila Odinga as saying. “The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared.”
Africa Review reported that Odinga told a rally in Nairobi on Sunday that “if found the homosexuals should be arrested and taken to relevant authorities.”
The website said that Odinga added it was “madness” for two men to fall in love with each other when a recent census showed there were “plenty of women” in the country.
However, Odinga’s spokesman said Monday that the prime minister was quoted out of context and that he was only highlighting that the country’s constitution bans same-sex weddings.
Kenya’s largest gay rights organization said the comments sparked panic among its members.
‘Extortion, blackmail and violence’
Nguru Karugu, a board member with the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya, said Monday the group had received calls from concerned members, some of whom are HIV-positive and fear they will be arrested when they collect life-prolonging medicine from government clinics.
- David Kuria, another activist with the organization, told the BBC that he believed the prime minister’s remarks would provoke “extortion, blackmail and violence.”
Kenya’s laws prohibit “sex against the order of nature.” That charge is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
The Associated Press and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.
- Lt Gen Njuki Mwaniki takes over from Lt Gen Tuwei, with Maj Gen Maurice Oyugi as deputy
Witnessing a sparkling clean land rover 110 being pulled using ropes by men in army uniform is not an every day event.
But the event on Monday was marking the end of a 38-year career of an army chief; and not every officer will get to enjoy this rare opportunity.
Army Commander Lieutenant General Jackson Kiprono Tuwei stole the show as another title to his name â€” retired (Rtd). He joined the army in 1973.
By looking at the man, you get to understand the saying that an army general never retires, just rests. Apart from the grey hair dotting his head, his physique is every bit that of a general who won the confidence of his seniors to become the third highest ranking army officer in the country.
He saluted at intervals to acknowledge the officers who lined up from the car-park at the Defence headquarters to the gate into Woodlands Road where he was ushered into a blue Toyota Prado with civilian registration numbers.
Rtd. Lt Gen Tuwei slowly alighted and he shook hands with officers whom we learnt he served closely with before being driven off.
His vehicle had a chase car, a white Peugeot, 405. The event caused a traffic snarl up as police had blocked roads around the defence headquarters.
Rtd. Lt Gen Tuwei is clearly among those who deserve to be pulled in the ceremonial Land Rover. He served in two formations, the Air Force and Army.
“After the 1982 coup, I was called upon to help in the formation of a new air force. It was a real honour,” said the retiring army officer. He continued to serve in the Air Force for the next 12 and a half years before he returned back to the Army.
The soft spoken army officer will however be on leave till next year April when he formally retires.
He spoke highly of his successor, Lt Gen Njuki Mwaniki who was his deputy saying: “This man has been a deputy and a friend and I have confidence in him.”
On his career, he said: “I thank God I look back with satisfaction for this rare feat to serve in the security of the country.”
Lt Gen (Rtd) Tuwei described the Ogaden invasion in North Eastern Province as one of his lowest moments, though it was at the same time highest. He said it was a tough battle that involved them day and night.
However, the fact that they never lost a single officer was something to be proud of: “We were on day and night not to allow the invaders access, and we were not only managed to do that but did not lose a single officer.”
The incoming army general, Lt Gen Mwaniki described his former boss as an example of servant leadership.
“When handing over the office he has left me the Bible and the Koran, the Armed Forces Act and the Standing Orders,” he added.
He said it was is significant to have faith in God, faith in our country and our profession.
“I am serving one of the best armies in the world and our officers can even serve in Afghanistan,” said Lt Gen Mwaniki. Maj Gen Maurice Oyugi will be the deputy army general.
|Sunday, 28th November, 2010||
By ViquÃ©-Ocean Kahinju,
WE are all bound to sleep and dream, but did you know that sleeping is just more than getting in bed or resting? Sleep can be refreshing and has health and beauty benefits.
Dr. Hamid Lule, a general practitioner in Kibuli, says: “Though it appears to many that sleep has no visible effect on one’s body, it has an effect on the mind and soul. Ailing people heal faster if they sleep for at least five hours, uninterrupted.”
People require a different amount of sleep. Some function quite well on six hours of sleep, while others may require eight hours or more.
Lule says with enough sleep, the skin possesses an incredible ability to spring back from harsh conditions it is subjected to during daytime. But to exploit these, one must get adequate sleep.
Florence Ndiwalana, a therapist and beautician, says sleeping aids the skin cells to undo stress. Sleep relieves the body from harsh ultra violent rays, effects of make-up and stress.
The skin can devote a big percentage of its energy and resources to replacing scorched epidermal cells and mending broken down fibre. Sleep relaxes the facial muscles and prevents wrinkles.
However, Ndiwalana says when one sleeps peacefully, the body produces large quantities of estrogen and progesterone hormones, which prevent thinning of the skin. This, she says, contributes to development of wrinkles as one ages. “In the long-run, it may make one prone to acne,” she says.
Benefits of sleep
|Monday, 29th November, 2010||
By Daniel Edyegu
KENYAN Pokot elders have asked the UPDF to liaise with them during operations to recover cattle stolen from the Karamoja sub-region.
The elders told the East African Community affairs minister, Eriya Kategaya, that UPDF soldiers often indiscriminately confiscate cattle from the Kenyan Pokot kraals whenever cattle are raided from Uganda.
“In the process, even the cattle of innocent Kenyan Pokot are herded away. Not all of us are cattle rustlers. As elders, we know the notorious thieves in our community and their kraals. The UPDF should get in touch with us whenever animals are stolen from Uganda so we can trace them, together with the culprits,” said Samuel Ngirolem, the LC3 councillor for Lokitonyala Ward in Pokot North district.
In an effort to contain cross-border cattle raids among nomadic communities along the eastern corridor, the Kenyan and Ugandan governments recently signed a bilateral agreement allowing forces on either side to pursue rustlers across the borders to recover stolen cattle.
Formerly, the raiders took advantage of the law on territorial sovereignty to steal cattle from neighbouring communities and quickly cross back to their countries.
The suggestion was made during the launch of the Kenya-Uganda simultaneous disarmament programme at Nasal in Pokot North district over the weekend.
Ironically, as officials from the two governments gave speeches, a Pokot man walked into the meeting with a gun strapped over his shoulder.
Orwa Ojode, the Kenya assistant security minister, urged Southern Sudan to join the disarmament programme.
Michael Onyiego | Nairobi 29 November 2010
US Ambassador to Kenya Michael Ranneberger (file)
Kenya’s Daily Nation is reporting that American Ambassador Michael Ranneberger has called for sweeping changes to Kenya’s justice system on Monday.
Speaking at a development forum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Ranneberger called for the east African nation to replace its top judge and lawyer.
Ranneberger told the crowd that removing Attorney General Amos Wako and Justice Evan Gicheru were important steps eradicating a “culture of impunity.” The U.S. envoy said that ensuring political stability and good governance would be critical for Kenya to attract foreign investment.
In attendance at the forum was Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Seated with Mr. Odinga was Cabinet Minister Charity Ngilu, who is facing corruption allegations and calls for her resignation.
Ambassador Ranneberger has been an outspoken critic of Kenya’s notoriously ubiquitous corruption. It is not the first time he has called for a more independent judiciary. Speaking in late September, the envoy urged Kenyan officials to carefully select a new chief justice.
“The new chief justice is going to be one of the most important positions in the country,” he said. “It is critically important that a person of the highest competence, of independence and of good repute be put in that position. I do not want to rule anyone out or in, but clearly their needs to be a selection process that is transparent. And where the best possible person is chosen; a person who will truly strive to make the judiciary corruption free and independent.”
As part of Kenya’s transition to its new constitution, the country must install a new Chief Justice by February 2011. The Attorney General must also be replaced by August of next year. Wako was originally appointed by former President Daniel arap Moi and has been the attorney general for nearly 20 years.
During his tenure Wako has overseen the infamous Goldenberg scandal – in which the Kenyan government illegally subsidized non-existent gold exports from the company Goldenberg International. The debacle has cost Kenya an estimated $76 million.
While Ambassador Ranneberger has previously called for strict vetting for future Justice and Attorney General appointments, this is the first time he has called for the two officials to step down.
The envoy recently made headlines by announcing that three senior members of government, as well as a prominent businessman, had been handed a U.S. travel ban for their alleged involvement in narcotics trafficking. Speaking just two weeks ago, Ranneberger said the illicit trade was a very serious problem which was made possible by the country’s rampant corruption and “culture of impunity.”
Posted: 11-29-10 04:33 PM
The BBC is reporting that Odinga made the offending proclamations before a mostly-conservative crowd of supporters in the Nairobi slum of Kibera on Sunday. “The constitution is very clear on this issue and men or women found engaging in homosexuality will not be spared,” he is quoted as saying. He then went on to note that “we want a country that is clean, a clean way of doing thing has clean mannerisms … we do not want things to do with sodomy,” according to the Associated Press.
According to MSNBC, homosexuality is currently illegal in Kenya in that the local constitution prohibits “sex against the order of nature,” and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
David Kuria from the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya called Odinga’s comments “surprising,” particularly given the fact that the prime minister is currently enjoying a wave of popularity throughout the nation. “We thought in this country we had made a lot of headway,” he told the BBC. “People will succumb to extortion, blackmail and violence.” Another activist noted that many HIV- positive residents had expressed concerns they would be subject to arrest when collecting medications from government clinics.
The AP reports Odinga’s spokesman Dennis Onyango has since denied the allegations of homophobia, and said the prime minister had made the remarks only to clarify the government’s stance on same-sex marriages.
By Steven Ariong –Daily Monitor-Uganda
The governments of Kenya and Uganda have agreed to conduct a joint cross-border disarmament in the neighbouring districts of Karamoja in Uganda and North Pokot in Kenya.
Speaking during the launch of the disarmament programme in Moroto on Friday, the Kenyan Assistant Minister in-charge of Internal Security and Provincial Administration, Mr Joshua Ejodeh, said: “Cattle rustling is hindering the friendship between Uganda and Kenya.
Therefore we should stop it very fast.” The Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in-charge of East African Affairs, Mr Eria Kategaya, commended the good relationship between the two countries.
Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta said the programme would enable the two countries to stop illegal use of firearms. “This operation will now help us to get rid of these cattle rustlers who are disturbing peace in the two countries and promote business,” Lt. Gen. Koreta said.
Joseph Lister Nyaringo – Irvington, New Jersey, USA
Kenyans living in the US have formed a Diaspora movement called Kenya Global Unity (KGU) .The organization was formed in June 2010 and registered as a think tank in the State of New Jersey. The organization will act as an umbrella that will unite all Kenyan organizations registered abroad to address myriad challenges facing Kenyans at home and in the Diaspora. Kenya Global Unity will be the first Kenyan based Diaspora organization that will bring all Kenyans scattered around the world under one umbrella.
From the smallest Countries of the earth to the populous China, we shall address the challenges facing Kenyans through sharing ideas geared towards benefiting the nation of Kenya. In the home front, KGU will advocate for social justice, equity and equality, good governance and promotion of democracy.
We shall have 3 chapters in Europe, one in Canada, three in the US, and two in Asia and two in Africa. We shall also operate a regional office in Nairobi since our activities are geared towards the Kenyan society.
In this initial stage, Kenya Global Unity is urging the government to facilitate for an orderly process where Kenyans whose citizenship was revoked after acquiring foreign citizenship to get new Kenyan passports through its missions abroad and the Ministry of foreign affairs should expedite this process.
As an organization whose role is to defend and protect the interests of Kenyans living overseas, we are urging Ministries of foreign affairs, State for Public Service, Justice and constitutional affairs to expeditiously address the horrible and dehumanizing conditions by Kenyans especially females in the Middle East. Recruiters or employment agents in Kenya have been known to take advantage of unemployment in the Country to let these vulnerable Kenyans sign contracts with employers in the region which deprives off their rights especially confiscation of their passports.
Very clearly, a Passport is a valuable travel document issued by the government of the Republic of Kenya which can be revoked at the discretion of the same government and therefore, it remains the property of the Kenyan government. Hence, a foreign national or government has got no right whatsoever to confiscate, or keep it for a Kenyan citizen living abroad. Saudi Arabia, the West Asian States of the United Arab Emiratesare notorious of this trend. I it must be remembered that in September, a Kenyan woman committed suicide in Lebanon by jumping from the balcony due to mistreatment and frustrations by her employer.
As KGU embarks on serving Kenyans in the Diaspora, we’re asking the government to put logistics in place to enable all Kenyans living overseas to register and vote in the next general elections slated in 2012. We believe that our rights and interests must be safeguarded because we are key contributors to the Country’s economy through investments and funds remittance. Therefore, Kenya Global Unity and its affiliate organizations in the Diaspora are willing to work with the Government and Kenya’s Missions abroad to source for an Electronic Voting company to make this happen.
The current officials of Kenya Global Unity are as follows: Alex Momanyi as President, Joan Misoi as Finance Secretary, Joseph Lister Nyaringo, secretary General, Isaac Newton Kinity Director and Dr. Barrack Abonyo as Spokesperson. In the Middle East, United Kingdom and Scandinavia, we have Mr. Mohamed Abdi, Philip Ngugi and Julius Menge respectively as regional representatives of KGU.
In the squalid tent camp set up on the grounds of Haiti’s ruined presidential palace, voters lined up outside polling stations as earthquake refugees looked on in frustration.
But because of election rules mandating that voters cast ballots in their home districts, displaced camp-dwellers could not vote at the urns set up right by their tents.
“I want to vote, but I don’t know where to go,” said Analise, 60, as she prepared food outside the small blue tent she shares with her family of six.
“I want to vote in the hope that I can leave this tent and live in a real house,” she added.
Lines formed nearby, but most of the voters were residents of the neighbourhood, some of whom had not lost their homes.
A neatly dressed policewoman placed three ballots â€” one each for the president, senators and deputies â€” in a transparent box and then protested when election officials went to mark her thumb with indelible ink.
“You’ll break my nails,” she said, adding that she voted for” the economic and social development of Haiti, which is lagging behind.” Here, as in thousands of stations across the country, voters are lining up “mostly to vote for another president,” according to another voter, a young man who refused to give his name.
The election comes as Haiti battles a cholera outbreak that has claimed at least 1,648 lives and is the first election since a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January killed more than 250,000 people.
Voters will choose a successor to President Rene Preval, who is not running for re-election, as well as 11 of the country’s 30 senators and all 99 parliamentary deputies.
The new president will face the daunting task of rebuilding the impoverished nation of around 10 million people where 80% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day.
Front-runners among the 18 candidates include Jude Celestin, an engineer supported by Preval; academic and former first lady Mirlande Manigat; and Michel Martelly, a popular singer widely known as “Sweet Micky.” Balloting began in most of the country shortly before 6:00 am (1100 GMT), as scheduled. However, some polling stations opened late.
Authorities have banned motorbike traffic and alcohol sales on election day as extra security measures, and there were few reports of violence after deadly clashes last week between supporters of rival factions.
Over 4.7 million people are eligible to vote. Results are to be made public from December 5, with the official tally announced on December 20.
But the vote has already been marred by widespread allegations of fraud and Manigat, the opinion poll front-runner, on Sunday called for it to be scrapped.