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Archive for September 22nd, 2009

Biko Beauttah- The Interview

Posted by Administrator on September 22, 2009

Biko Beauttah. Photo courtesy of Biko Beauttah

Biko Beauttah. Photo courtesy of Biko Beauttah

By ANTONY KARANJA, Jambonewspot.com

Most of us certainly might be able to come up with names of a couple of models we have heard of and may also have tuned in to the London and Paris runways as the male and female models do their thing infront of the international media. The media can not wait to rush their glamor shots to their print room for publication. The who is who in the fashion world clamouring for that summer collection release that has been long awaited. It’s a glamorous world.

For one model however, it is a different story. See, she may not be able to grace these runways nor get these lucrative opportunies. In her own words, she has what it takes, but she does not see herself getting there unless things change. If she can be accepted as a part of the traditional world of models in fashion, then the sky is the limit. Don’t get me wrong. She gets her accolades from various quarters. She has even appeared on the Tyra Banks Show. She has received awards by various Toronto Magazines including the Canadian Broadcasting corportaion. She is making a name for herself in Toronto, Canada and she is doing what it takes to get to that next level that she wants to get to the next level.

Biko Beauttah (Photo by Courtney Shea)

Biko Beauttah (Photo by Courtney Shea)

Enter Biko Beauttah. Born and raised in Kenya, Biko Beauttah began a career in Fashion as a Fashion Stylist. Lately, Biko has been pushed full force into modelling quickly becoming one of the most sort after alternative models in Canada. So, why can’t she hit the big runways with ease or as frequently as she would want to? Biko is not your typical model. Most people in Kenya who knew Biko remember her as a MAN. She was born a man. According to Biko, she was never confortable as a boy from an early age. She liked girl stuff; wanted to be a girl; wished she was a girl.

This interview seeks to peek into her life and she lets us into her world as a transgender model. We will however refer to her as an “alternative lifestyle” model. Hope this interview will answer some of your questions. 

More pictures in the clip….

Biko Beauttah on YouTube

CLICK ON THE VIDEO TO PLAY

MY INSPIRATION FOR DOING THIS INTERVIEW

Aside from the massive curiosity, As I sat watching CNN, one evening, a clip aired showing a scene in Nairobi involving a Gay man Jackson Irungu. This clip was being re-aired as it was shot in May or June 2008. I guess I was a little bit taken a back by his openness to his situation and knowing that it is “crime” punishable by law  and may land one in jail for upto 14 years. In my mind I knew there were gay people in Kenya but it’s one thing knowing and it’s another seeing one. A few nights later, Larry King featured a group of transexuals and their stories seemed so unreal as well as fascinating. I thereby wondered whether we could get some homegrown answers hence some digging brought up Biko Beauttah and here we are.

Thank you so much to the focus group that submitted their questions, tips and critiques to make this first interview happen. Special Thanks to Gladys, Solomon, Sam, Max, Ambrose, Pam, Leo and all the others behind the scenes participants who were involved.

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Kenya hunger conditions drive girls to prostitution to feed families

Posted by Administrator on September 22, 2009

Nairobi (Kenya) – It is early evening and the sun’s rays paint a golden atmosphere across the bare plains of Hombo village in Kibwezi district. For Eliza Wayua, it is time to bid her two children and her frail mother-in-law goodbye. She will be out in the night on an errand that none of them understands.

But they do know that when she comes back the following morning, she will bring food to last them a day. She is their only minder.

Mounting her bike, she waves at them and navigates the narrow, maze-like footpaths of this semi arid land. She will cycle 10km to Makindu, a small, dusty town on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway. She arrives at Makindu just before dusk. A few trucks are zooming past while many others are parked on both sides of the road. Business today promises to be good.

Wayua leaves her bike with a watchman and vanishes into the dusk. The watchman will receive a stipend the next morning for keeping vigil on the bike.

The Nairobi-Mombasa highway has shocking figures on HIV/Aids prevalence rates. World Vision HIV/Aids advocacy adviser Simon Duffy says one in every three adults living in markets along the highway is HIV positive. This has been attributed to truck drivers and conductors who have been cited as a high risk group. It is in these towns and markets that they meet commercial sex workers — another high risk group.

In Kibwezi district alone, there are about 20 support groups comprising people living with Aids.

Daniel Keleli, who heads the Kibwezi Network of People Living with Aids, says the current famine and food shortage in parts of Ukambani will lead to many people being infected as they try to escape starvation.

“Prostitution seems to be the only option out of hunger. The relief food offered by the government is too little and irregular,” says Mr Keleli.

About 75 per cent of people in this region live below the poverty line. The land is semi arid and unproductive, with very little economic activity.
Charcoal burning has for a long time been the only means of upkeep. But with the current drought, trees have diminished, leaving residents with no reliable source of livelihood.

“We are seeing girls as young as 16 engaging in commercial sex with truck drivers,” Mr Keleli says, adding that there has been an influx of commercial sex workers in Makindu and Kibwezi towns where he operates businesses.

Reports indicate that women and girls affected by famine in the interior rural areas are moving to towns on the highway for commercial sex to fend for themselves and their families.

As a sign of the great concern that Aids poses to residents, there are several non-governmental organisations on the ground fighting to curb the spread of the virus.

With the help of Willy Mutunga, a VCT counsellor at Hope Worldwide Kenya, we meet Ann Soila, a commercial sex worker who heads a support group for sex workers that urges them to bargain for safe sex.

“Women and girls joining this trade are so desperate that they don’t press for safe sex, thus risking infection.”

Soila adds that the rapid increase in sex workers has resulted in stiff competition among them. Soila is a bit skimpy on how much the sex workers earn. But after much prodding, she opens up.

“They normally charge about Ksh500 ($6) and above for ‘fry’ (without a condom)  and as low as Ksh200 ($2.5) for ‘boil’ (sex with a condom).” She adds that the charges vary with the kind of client and the level of bargain.

Nelson Mbithi, the Kibwezi district Aids and STD coordinator, says there has been an increase in prevalence rates in towns on the highway.” Since the drought worsened this year, the prevalence rate has risen from 5.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent.”

Mbithi says the current drought and looming shortage of condoms has aggravated the matter.

“New infections may rise due to women and girls turning to the highway for sustenance,” he says, adding that they have put 4,029 people on anti-retro virals recently.

The highway connects the three East African countries — Uganda via Busia and Tanzania through Namanga.

There is hope, however, for the desperate women. The rains hitting parts of the country could last long enough to sustain crops in the region.
This will ensure that Wayua and other women have food for their children and keep off risky behaviour.

Source: http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/

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Kenyan challenges state over prison facilities

Posted by Administrator on September 22, 2009

An intersexed Kenyan has applied to Kenya’s constitutional court to be released from Nairobi’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison on the grounds that he belongs in neither a jail for men nor women.

Richard Mwanzia Muasya, who was convicted and jailed for robbery with violence, says he is subjected to continuous human-and constitutional-rights violations at the prison, which is for men only. He claims to suffer inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of male convicts, prison warders and the public.

Muasya was born with both male and female sex organs, but regards himself as a man. He has asked the court to release him because, he says, he is neither man nor woman and there is no special prison for people like him. He argues that if he is transferred to a female prison he will suffer the same fate.

The second leg of his case challenges Kenyan law for discriminating against him. He argues that the law recognises only the two sexes, male and female, and should be changed.

The fact that Kenyan law does not recognise intersexuality makes it difficult for him to acquire vital documents, including the national identity card, Muasya says in papers filed in court. This is because he does not know whether to complete application forms as a man or a woman.

The birth and death registration law also does not provide for intersexuality, making it impossible for him to acquire a birth certificate.

Muasya was arrested with three other suspects in February 2005 after a robbery during which a woman was gang-raped. However, the rape charge against him was dropped after medical reports confirmed that he is intersexed.

The medical examination determined that none of his sex organs was fully developed and that it was unlikely that he could commit rape.

Muasya and other intersexed people in Kenya suffer ridicule and discrimination. In some instances they are kept out of the public eye because people are ashamed of them.

The problem facing Kenya’s constitutional court is that he has been convicted of an offence, yet the country has no separate facility for holding intersexed offenders.

In addition, the Kenyan constitution does not recognise the unique rights of intersexed citizens. Under South African law, the intersexed are recognised and their rights are protected.

SOURCE: www.mg.co.za

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