Friday, September 5, 2008

Intersexual Held In Kamiti Prison - To Release Or Not To Release?

One Nairobi lawyer John Chigiti has a unique case in his hands. His client Richard Mwanzia Muasya is a confirmed hermaphrodite. He is also a convicted criminal incarcerated at Kamiti Maximum Prison for robbery with violence. Muasya, through his lawyer is asking to be set free because the law is discriminatory against him. According to him, being locked up in an exclusively male prison whereas biologically he’s not totally a man amounts to human and constitutional rights abuse. He’s suffering degrading exposure to male convicts and prison warders. On November 6 last year Justice Roselyn Wendo ordered that he be accorded separate accommodation in Kamiti Prison but that has not been done so far. He is asking to be set free unconditionally.

But isolating an intersexual in our correctional facilities or anywhere else for that matter is just the beginning. In prisons there is the issue of other shared amenities like washrooms, dining area, recreational facilities and indeed the whole compound as a whole. If isolation will work in Muasya’s case at all, it would mean making physical changes to the buildings or putting up a separate prison all together. Quite a long shot considering that hermaphrodites are few and how many of them end up in prisons?

Cases like Muasya’s are rare but not entirely unheard of. In 2004 for example, intersexual Jonothon Featherstone managed to avoid a prison sentence in Jamaica because the Jamaican penal code had no provisions for those bearing both male and female genitalia. That was even after he admitted trying to smuggle drugs out of Jamaica.

One cannot ignore the tribulations Muasya has probably been through. For one the whole intersexual thing must be heavy on his psyche. I imagine he grew up grappling with excruciating social stigma and psychological effects of his mixed gender – all in an unforgiving culture. Secondly sexual abuse in our penal institutions is no secret. If he has not already been put through some of that, it’s just a question of when and not if and he must be spending all his waking hours fretting about it.

Surprisingly, hermaphrodites are not as rare as one may think. There are quite a number around the world and in some countries there are support groups just for them. In other countries, some incidences are surgically corrected when the child is still young. But this medical intervention on hermaphrodite infants is meeting with more and more resistance as people with the condition come forth with claims that these surgeries immerse subjects into worse psychological, medical, and sexual damage. They’re encouraging parents to let their children develop into themselves and enjoy the gift of being unique.

So should Muasya be set free?
Should he be jailed in isolation?


31337 said...

again solitary confinement, equal to being jailed in isolation is a violation of his rights?

Shiko-Msa said...

Yea intelligensia. Strange case this one. Last I heard solitary confinement was a punishment within a punishment.

Whichever way it's looked at there are issues. But can the system just free a convicted criminal? If he was not implicated in robbery with violence, nobody would have put him in Kamiti in the first place. He violated someones right to property when he robbed ama?

Someone said jokingly that he should then be transferred to Lang'ata women's prison because the ladies are less of a threat. But he's still not a lady.

Anonymous said...

Muasya, is for all (criminal) intents and purposes, a man. His good lawyer seems to be attempting to set legal precedence and perhaps enhance his professional profile in the process. Muasya's freedom can only be an incidental welcome.

There is no law for male robbers and another for female robbers. There cannot be another set of laws for hermaphrodites. Muasya certainly did not inspect his victims sexes before offending them. And even if he decided to only rob fellow hermaphrodites, he would still be jailed for the offense. Not for the indeterminate sex.

Lawyer Chigiti should be seeking enforcement of Judge Wendoh's earlier ruling. Otherwise he too can be faulted for exploiting his clients sex.

KenyaLuv said...

Muasya should have thought of that BEFORE he committed the crime

UrXlnc said...


exactly, plus there is nothing suggesting otherwise from the name Richard Mwanzia Muasya, i'd be curious there is always a form to fill either for ID or when filling in OB and there is always the question Male/Female, what exactly did this person jaza to at least guide the officers

Shiko-Msa said...

Spin-Digest true this case is a first and the lawyer could end up with a lot of publicity - good for him as long as he does not get accused of exploiting his clients unique case for personal gain. The guy goes about his life as a man. It's only after conviction and incarceration that he's taking advantage of his situation to try secure freedom.

Urxlnc in Kitui he was held in seclusion in police custody throughout the two year trial. That was after doctors in Kitui General Hospital confirmed his condition. So most likely at that time despite using the name Richard Muasya, his problem was highlighted and the police there decided to act by isolating him. But in Kamiti it seems nobody has the time for such niceties. He's just another robber.

True Kenyaluv. He should have considered his victims human right before robbing. And by the way someone was raped during that robbery although rape charges against him were dropped after doctors confirmed that he was not capable of rape.

Maua said...

Transgender issues are very common in the UK, and mainly in employment tribunal cases, and they end up with huge payments eg 1.

2. appea

But unless there are laws, good luck Richard.

Shiko-Msa said...

Thanks Maua for the very interesting links. The ones living in such countries are much luckier than their counterparts here because in the first place they open up about it. Makes you wonder how many more are hiding with such a problem here. There must be several.

And out there they have such a thing as the Sex Discrimination Regulations?

Maua said...

One day we shall have the law to govern such. Mind you there is also direct and indirec discrimination, depends on what you're complaining about. Ship Richard to UK, hahahaaha.

Here are some of the discrimination acts in UK, which can be googled easily.

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006

Equal Pay Act 1970

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Race Relations Act 1976 amended by the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000

Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Disability Discrimination Act 2005

Equality Act 2006

See also the Employment Equality Regulations covering sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.

Northern Ireland has a similar pattern of 'separate' equality legislation.

Taabu said...

On a bright side to the GLOOM Muasya can thank nature for abundant mercy. S/he need not ask or seek but can just INTERLOCk and enjoy=AUTOEROTISM, ama? Two in one if you like.

Rafiki said...

Maua: Apparently, the UK seems to have Acts on everything. No Hermaphrodite Act yet? Too many Acts can also make things too complicated for wananchi.

Maua said...

Rafiki, no acts yet, but soon, very soon, although by then, I'll be a pensioner somewhere in Kiambu, I'll not care.

I went searching and look what I got,

very informative, but for who?

Shiko-Msa said...

Gosh Taabu! Have you thought of the logistics of such a feat? Lol.

Maua that link has some very interesting videos. I think I'd also prefer to call them intersex rather than hermaphrodites. Not that the topic comes my way a lot but whenever it does then the word is intersex.

Minority groups seem to be well cushioned in the UK. And the people themselves also do their part towards it by forming groups and movements. As far as opening up is concerned, Kenyans should probably use Muasya's example to push beyond the stigma and stand up for themselves. Not just against jail term cases but against other forms of discrimination. Someone said places such as schools and hotels should have separate washrooms for ladies, gentlemen and intersexual. Maua by the time that happens, it’s your grandson who will be a pensioner living somewhere in Kiambu Lol. You on the other hand …......

Rafiki already the use of the word hermaphrodite to refer to these people is already under attack by some groups. Just as well. It sounds like a Greek myth. So when the act finally comes to be, it’ll not be called hermaphrodite act. Maybe The Ambiguous Genitalia Act or something like that.

Rafiki said...

Shiko, you are right, the term hermaphrodite is not very nice. Apparently "disorders of sex development" (DSD) or "variations of sex development" are more acceptable. The Organisation Intersex International ( may be of help.

Maua: You must be looking forward to some relaxation in Kiambu.

Anonymous said...

you people realize you are talking about human beings with feelings like anyone else? tey're just people like you and me and did not pray to be born like that.

Shiko-Msa said...

Yes of course Anon we realize they’re human beings like you and me. Have we said anything to show otherwise? Because they’re human beings like you and me, that’s the reason why Muasya should not rob and steal other people’s property and expect to walk free ama? You cannot be convicted of robbery with violence and then try to play the minority card now can you?

Rafiki thanks for the link. Very nice website they have there. This whole intersexual affair is much bigger worldwide than I thought kumbe.

Maua karibu Kiambu. I don’t reside there but karibu all the same.

Gaje Master said...

my dad is a correcitonal officer and he recently had a prisoner who had a sex change that was paid for by the state, meaning that it was paid for by us. The judge deemed the operation as medically necessary since he believes that a person can be born with gender issues. The prisoner was put back into the all male prison but at what cost? He is now on lock down due to it but I don't feel sorry for him since he murdered someone. I say that they should keep this person on lock down if they feel that it will be an issue. Setting him free would do no good except allow him to think that he got away with these crimes. It wasn't our fault that he chose to do this so why should our society suffer with another criminal loose?

Shiko-Msa said...

Gaje Master his surgery was paid for by the state? Thing sure do work differently over there! Back here that is unheard of. We can comfortably rule out surgery for Richard here coz I just don't think he can afford it and the state would probably just laugh at such a request. But true the guy needs to be punished, not as an intersexual but as a criminal.

I love to watch Lock Down on National Geographic. It's interesting and informative. From what I've seen, the prisons there are built well and it’s not very difficult to isolate a prisoner. Here things are much different because the prisons are seriously overcrowded. Some prisons designed to house 15,000 inmates are overstretched to house over 50,000. So you can imagine how difficult it is to give special isolation to one prisoner.

Anonymous said...

Even though its right here with us, I still dont believe in this trans gender thing hence I cant comment on his rights

Shiko-Msa said...

Greamhouze these people are among us. And they may be more than is known. I've a feeling if enough awareness is generated more people will come forth and maybe even form a group of some sort.