Kenyan Lawmaker Told To 'Get Out' By Male Colleagues After Bringing Her Baby To Work
A Kenyan lawmaker was removed from parliament because she brought her baby with her.
August 09, 2019 at 12:09 am
Kenyan lawmaker Zuleika Hassan was forced to leave a parliamentary session on Wednesday simply for bringing her baby to work.
All of the country's female members of parliament walked out of the Kenyan National Assembly in solidarity with Hassan, who was forced to bring her 5-month-old daughter to work because of an emergency with a caregiver. She said parliament did not have a nursery.
Speaker Christopher Omulele ordered guards to remove her because technically, parliament has a rule where no "strangers" are allowed in the chamber, according to the BBC.
"The Honorable Zuleika, you must get out of the House immediately!" speaker Omulele shouted.
Some male lawmakers harshly criticized Hassan for bringing the baby but others said the situation was an embarrassing display of misogyny.
"I have tried really hard not to come with the baby, but today I had an emergency; what was I supposed to do? If parliament had a nursery or a creche, I would be able to put my baby there," Hassan said. “I had an emergency and decided not to miss work but come with the baby. She is not an atomic bomb and can’t explode.”
Some small fights broke out between lawmakers who thought Hassan should not be forced to leave. Omulele ordered the sergeant-at-arms to remove Hassan, but female lawmakers crowded around her and blocked the soldiers from touching her.
“As much as she has a right to take care of her child, this not the right place, I therefore direct that you immediately withdraw from the chambers,” Omulele said.
Advocates for Hassan said the scene was particularly offensive because it came during World Breastfeeding Week.
WATCH: Kenyan lawmaker is removed from parliament after bringing her baby into the chamber.
Zuleika Hassan says she brought her baby to work following an emergency and because there is no daycare available at parliament. pic.twitter.com/mUJzBwWQVl
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2019
Kenyan parliamentarians passed a law in 2013 that said parliament buildings must have a room for breastfeeding mothers, but it still has not been created at this point.
Female lawmakers bashed the parliamentarian leaders for being regressive and for trapping women in a lose-lose situation.
“This child has a right, if they don’t establish a breastfeeding room then we will urge all women with breastfeeding children to come with their children in the chambers so as to send a message,” MP Sophia Abdi Noor told The Daily Nation.
Without the breastfeeding room, female lawmakers were forced to rely on babysitters or skip parliamentary sessions to care for their children.
“This child has a right to be with the mother and we don’t understand why she is being sent away,” said MP Rachel Nyamai.
Kenya's National Gender and Equality Commission released a statement condemning what happened and urging parliament to finally build the breastfeeding room for female lawmakers.
“The ejection of Zuleika Hassan from the chambers for showing up with her baby is unfortunate and amounts to the discrimination of mother, child and Kwale County electorate," said NGEC Chairperson Joyce Mutinda. “It is unfortunate that six years after the Parliamentary Service Commission was mandated to establish a crèche to accommodate nursing legislators and their children, the same is yet to be implemented.”
If you thought the United States was any better, think again. It was only last year that the U.S. Senate passed a rule allowing newborns to be brought into the chambers.
They only created the rule after Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth became the first Senator in U.S. history to give birth to a child while serving.