, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 20 – Three MPs have termed amendments to the Marriage Bill as a sign that the Legislature is insensitive and ignorant to the plight of women and marginalized groups in the country.
Nominated MP Isaac Mwaura and nominated Senator Godlive Mboke criticised their fellow parliamentarians for failing to understand the impact of the laws they were passing particularly on the life of the people living with disability.
Mwaura cited an amendment to Clause 12 of the Bill which MPs voted to take away the freedom of a person with a mental condition to consent to marriage but failed to define how a state of mental condition can be determined.
“For a very long time person with disability, users and survivors of psychiatry, people who are bipolar have always been misunderstood by the society and in the 20th Century we cannot keep on calling people insane yet this are the people we live with and represent and we know they have both the mental or legal capacity to give free consent to a marriage contract,” said the nominated Senator.
According to Mwaura, who was nominated to the National Assembly to champion the welfare of persons with special interests; MPs failed to comprehend the difference between mental illness (as defined under the Mental Health Act) and mental and psycho-social disability (this includes people who are the users and survivors of psychiatry, people who have bi-polar among others).
“Parliament erred in not qualifying what is a mental condition and secondly in stigmatizing those with any form of mental illness yet we have lived and worked with this people and we know they have the mental or legal capacity to give free consent to a marriage contract,” Mwaura added.
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He said Article 12 of the Convention of Person Living with Disability provides that this group of people can be supported in their decision-making, which according to him is not tantamount to making a decision for a person especially in regard to giving free consent to marriage.
“There are some people in this Parliament who call themselves gate-keepers that you can’t tell them anything, they are know-it-all yet they are the most ignorant people I have ever met,” stated the nominated MP.
Nyandarua County Woman Representative Wanjiku Muhia said they plan to introduce the amendment to the Bill in Parliament within six months after they have adequately lobbied their counterparts.
“I am speaking as a mother who has mental condition, we have children who are dyslexic these children cannot read, they cannot write but that doesn’t mean they should be denied their right of their life,” Muhia added.
“The Constitution gives every person the right to their choice, so it was very unfortunate.”
At the same, Muhia defended her fellow female MPs for not doing much to ensure that the male counterparts did not bulldoze their interests.