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P.O. Box 10071 – 00100 Nairobi Kenya Tel. No.: +254 722 884565 Email: info@uspkenya.com Website: www.

uspkenya.com

Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Kenya

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
For more information contact : Person : Kanyi Gikonyo (Chief Executive) Mobile : 0723664177 Email : kanyi.gikonyo@uspkenya.com Website : www.uspkenya.com

THE MARRIAGE BILL 2013 WILL CAUSE MORE INEQUALITY THAN EQUALITY
Nairobi, (March 26, 2014) We support the campaign for a Marriage Bill that upholds equality. However, by making mental disability or illness a special ground for annulling marriage, the Marriage Bill 2013, in its current form :   denies persons with disabilities basic rights, such as to marry and found a family; perpetuates stereotypes against persons with mental illness and mental disabilities, such as by associating mental disability with inability to understand; and establishes discriminatory grounds which not only violate persons with mental health conditions and disability, but also opens up more avenues for abuse of others in vulnerable circumstances: categorizing “incurable insanity” as a ground for divorce will serve, and already serves, as tool for the powerful side in the marriage to abuse the other side, whether or not there is a disability or illness.

We call for H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to this Bill until the discriminatory grounds based on mental disability or illness as expressed in Clauses’ 5, 11, 12, 66, 73 and 89. We would like to ask the President to assent to a law that truly promotes equality for all Kenyans regardless of their health status or disability. Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya on National Values and Principles of governance as stipulated to promote public participation, human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and protection of the marginalised; It is important for everyone to understand that a mental illness can affect anyone, from anywhere at anytime regardless of their social status, religious beliefs, gender, culture, race and tribe. Currently, it is estimated that up to 10-15% of our population suffers from common mental disorders (including depression, anxiety and somatisation). There are roughly 4 to 6 million Kenyan men, women and children living with mental disorders whether diagnosed or not. These Kenyans are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. By invalidating their rights we are in fact invalidating their humanity.

CEO’s Office

Mobile: +254 723664177

Email: kanyi.gikonyo@uspkenya.com

Website: www.uspkenya.com

USPKENYA REGISTERED IN 2007 UNDER NGO COORDINATION BOARD REGISTRATION NUMBER OP. 218/051/2007/0456/4848

P.O. Box 10071 – 00100 Nairobi Kenya Tel. No.: +254 722 884565 Email: info@uspkenya.com Website: www.uspkenya.com

Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Kenya Human rights are interrelated, indivisible, inherent and universal. You take away the right to marry, you take away the choice to self-determination, right to own property, ability to engage in commerce, operate bank accounts, right to health, who to live with and other liberties that enhance the quality of life for all Kenyans on an equal basis with all the other citizens. We will be creating a subclass in society of superior and inferior citizenship which is unconstitutional and against international legal obligations that bind Kenya as a State in the world. It is important to understand that in addition to jeopardizing the rights of persons with disabilities, putting in “insanity”-based grounds for divorce will also hurt the affected vulnerable and marginalized population because anyone in a vulnerable position will be subject to a process determining their “insanity” as a way for the other side to gain the upper hand in a marriage or divorce-related conflict with drastic impact on property, child custody and other rights. Mental illnesses/disorders are categorized as Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) they have the potential to be long-term and chronic but it is not always the case. It is manageable and individuals affected can live normal full and productive lives with the right support systems which include supportive policies and structures, an understanding society and consistent medical care just like any other chronic illness. This bill seems to imply that having a mental illness or condition such as depression or anxiety is full time. The nature of illness in the human body is unpredictable just as our humanity is, and if this Bill had gone through public participation as envisioned in the Constitution they would have received an education on the same from the persons affected, their families and professionals as stakeholders to the life changing consequences that emanate. Finally, on the basis that some legislators claimed about religious beliefs and affiliation to certain churches, we wonder if next they will institute changes to the marriage vows to exclude mental illnesses/disorders in the vows, “For Better and for worse, in sickness and in health” with a disclaimer on mental illness. We make our humblest plea to H.E. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to this controversial, discriminatory and unconstitutional and retrogressive thinking that will take Kenya backwards by preying on vulnerable groups, create social havoc in marriages and alter the life course of between 4 to 6 million Kenyans

Kanyi Gikonyo Chief Executive

CEO’s Office

Mobile: +254 723664177

Email: kanyi.gikonyo@uspkenya.com

Website: www.uspkenya.com

USPKENYA REGISTERED IN 2007 UNDER NGO COORDINATION BOARD REGISTRATION NUMBER OP. 218/051/2007/0456/4848