The agony that women living with disabilities undergo that appears unnoticeable

Image courtesy

Women with disabilities are living on their island when it comes to reproductive healthcare rights in Kenya. Disability is not inability but statistics and realities on the relationship between mental disability and access to reproductive health care are on the antithetical side. 

Unlike their normal counterparts, women living with disabilities, especially the mentally challenged have remained to be marginalized in Kenya since time immemorial. Normative rights as enshrined under the constitution require that every person has the right to access the highest attainable standards of health care services including reproductive health.

The level of discrimination being exhibited here is untold. Many people have not realized it because the victims cannot speak for themselves. They are being discriminated because they are perceived to be comfortable with their situation.

Human rights are inherent. They are supposed to be enjoyed by all persons regardless of whatsoever form of difference. Not even foreign nationals living in Kenya should be denied the enjoyment of basic human rights provided in the law.

The common Principle of human rights; equality and non-discriminatory has never been justified when it comes to the right to reproductive health care for mentally challenged expectant mothers in Kenya. While the constitution provides that every person has a right to access the highest attainable standards of reproductive health, the literal interpretation will include every woman who is a consumer of reproductive health in Kenya.

But it is disgusting that mentally challenged expectant mothers do not fall under that category in the eyes of the government. But why?

It is impossible to imagine that these women can go to the hospital for the service as their normal counterparts. It is, however, medically proven that mentally challenged women have normal sexual and reproductive needs like any other woman.

The big question now remains, what should be done so that we can have a society where all of us are treated equally regardless of our differences? The fact is that mentally challenged expectant woman will not get the opportunity to enjoy multi-facet prenatal and postpartum care because the systems in place are not inclusive.

Most mentally challenged expectant women fall victim to leading maternal killer complications of pregnancy which include; infections, unsafe abortions, hypertensive disorders, and severe bleeding.

Neonatal deaths and stillbirths are also very common problems with mentally challenged expectant women; all, are influenced by poor maternal health, and inadequate care during pregnancy and delivery amongst others.

To arrest the issue of marginalization, the government must express goodwill in ensuring that this right must be enjoyed by all citizens equally and without discrimination. The government should create a bridge that will enable the mentally challenged expectant women to find refuge from the challenges they have been facing.

One of the ways is for the government to create special medical centers like Mathare Mental Hospital which will take care of the reproductive interests of mentally challenged expectant women.

To realize the function of the special medical counters, the regional administration at the bottom of the pyramid for instance; local leaders and the police should be given the mandate of reporting all mentally challenged expectant mothers to reproductive health centers for them to be examined, admitted and be taken care of by specially trained medical personnel on handling people with disabilities.

People with disabilities should be handled differently, but positively in all areas for them to realize their dreams and objectives in life and it should be so in reproductive healthcare. It is the moment that the few minorities should be the voice of the voiceless majority.

By Elizabeth Stacie

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *