FIDA threatens court action on couples issue

April 14, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 14 – The Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA) has threatened court action to challenge an order barring married couples from working in the same parastatal.

In a statement on Tuesday FIDA Chairperson Naomi Wagereka dismissed the quit notice given to married couples working in Parastatals within the Finance Ministry.

Ms Wagereka termed the order “not only unconstitutional, but also discriminatory and against various international human rights laws that Kenya is a signatory to.”

“We are therefore putting the government on notice that unless the notice is withdrawn forthwith we shall move the constitutional court to direct that the intended action is a violation of basic human rights, is discriminatory and in blatant breach of constitutional safeguards,” she said in a strongly worded statement.

Reports indicate that Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua gave the order last week and justified it stating that the idea of a couple working in the same parastatal had encouraged corruption.

He gave the couples six months to decide who among them would quit or risk being sacked. The order expected to be effected by September this year will cover the Central Bank of Kenya, Capital Markets Authority, Retirement Benefits Authority, Insurance Regulatory Authority, and Public Procurement Oversight Authority.

However FIDA maintained on Monday that Mr Kinyua’s argument was not justified.

“The affected couples should note that the government has no case on this issue,” Ms Wagereka insisted.

FIDA, an organisation that fights for the preservation of women rights, expressed concerns that within the prevailing circumstances women were likely to be discriminated against.

“We are painfully aware of the fact that in a patriarchal society such as Kenya is it is the female spouses who are at risk of losing their employment,” she regretted. “In view of the foregoing, we are of the informed view that the threatened action by the government constitutes a frontal attack on the family institution.”

The League of Women Voters and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions have also raised their opposition to the directive, insisting that there was no documented evidence that the couples had cooperated in corruption.

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