UPDATE: SUCCESS! The billboards came down in May. The Nairobi County Government responded to our request, removing the inaccurate and inflammatory anti-abortion billboards that had been erected throughout Nairobi. We applaud the government’s commitment to upholding the country’s constitution by ensuring that citizens have access to accurate and reliable information as well as access to necessary health services. We are thankful to our partners who stand strong with us in our fight to expand access to safe and legal abortion services in Kenya.
Making a strong stand against heightened organized anti-abortion activities in Nairobi, the Center for Reproductive Rights joined Kenyan women’s rights organizations and activists on April 24 in delivering a petition with over 500 signatures to the Nairobi County government. We demanded that Kenyan authorities remove the inflammatory and misleading anti-abortion billboards that have recently been put up around the city.
“The billboards fuel stigma and misinformation on abortion, creating an environment that adversely affects reproductive health providers and women seeking these services,” said Evelyne Opondo, our Senior Regional Director for Africa.
The anti-abortion billboards are sponsored by Sozo Church of God, a Nairobi-based church that opened in 2013.
The group has also claimed that abortion in Kenya is illegal—when it is constitutionally protected when the life or health of a woman is at risk. Seven women die from unsafe abortion in Kenya every day and these mistruths only serve to drive abortion further underground, putting the health and lives of Kenyan women and girls on the line.
This stigmatizing rhetoric has also created serious policy setbacks: in 2015, the government revoked the Standards and Guidelines for Reducing Morbidity and Mortality from Unsafe Abortion that inform health care providers on when they are legally permitted to provide the service. In 2017, the government banned Marie Stopes International, a reproductive health care provider, from providing abortion services and information.
The Center has challenged both of these developments in court and decisions are pending. We will continue to partner and stand with our ally organizations in combatting stigma, misinformation, and gender discrimination, securing reproductive health and rights for all Kenyan women.