Unsafe in Somalia, Unwanted in Kakuma, Unwelcome in Nairobi: The Nightmares of Intersex Children Refugees

The sound of gunshots and blasts of bombs ring the air. A house burns here, a village scatters there. A woman clutches her child to her breast and runs, but the hem of her bui-bui catches flame. She puts it out with a repeated slap of the hand. But she cannot put out the fire that burns her life down. So she runs. Somalia is not safe. She decides to run to Kenya like everyone else.

My name is Abdi Rahaman, my parents are refugees. I am a 5 years old intersex child. I should be in kindergarten, learning letters and numbers, but I am not. I should be attending madrassa, to learn about my religion, but I do not. I miss school and madrassa.

Everyone says I am sick. I cannot control my urine, so my parents wrap me in adult diapers. On 15th September 2020, my parents took me to Nairobi. The doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital said I have Congenital Posterior Urethral Valves and that I should go to India for special treatment. However, there is no money. My parents cannot raise money for our daily sustenance let alone the travel and medical expenses to go to India.

My friends at school and madrassa bully me, saying that I am not a boy because my genitals are not similar to those of other boys. My parents tried to explain that I am an intersex child, that there is nothing wrong with me. But my friends refuse to play with me; sometimes they bully and beat me. When I fought back I was suspended from school. Back in the camp, my mother often got entangled in fights with neighbors because they considered me an abomination.

I pity my parents because they are struggling with more than my condition. My father is yet to receive his Refugee Identity Card. He says he applied for it and attended an interview (Refugee Status Determination Interview) in 2020. My mother who got her ID, says it should take six months after the interview to receive a decision. One year later, my father is yet to receive his decision. But the police do not understand, they say his documents are fake. They want to take my father away from us. He was told to call the UNHCR toll-free number, but it never works.

Have you met my friend Ismail Mohamed? Like me, he is an intersex child whose mother is a refugee from Somali. His mother was also stigmatized at Kakuma because Ismail is intersex. Consequently, they fled Kakuma for Nairobi where the authorities let her stay temporarily.

His mother does not have a Refugee Identity Card. Like my father, she only has proof of registration. Worse her document states that she should be in Kakuma.

Ismail, like me, is sick. He also wears diapers and experiences abdominal pains. When his mother took him to Mama Lucy Hospital, she was turned away and told that she should seek healthcare services at Kakuma where her document places her. She cannot go back to Kakuma because of the discrimination. She cannot access services in Nairobi because she is deemed a Kakuma runaway. She wants to change her document but is frustrated by the system.

Unfortunately, this is our reality!!!

Author: Ian Nyboma

LL.B Hons (Moi) | PGD (KSL)