MPs reject Bill denying women upkeep in estranged relationships

March 6, 2015 8:11 am
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Kaluma wanted the law changed so that when a child’s parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth/FILE
Kaluma wanted the law changed so that when a child’s parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – Efforts by Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma to introduce amendments to Children’s Act to give men the right to live with and provide for the children without having to cater for their mothers have been thwarted after MPs rejected it.

The Bill, which had already been endorsed in the committee stages was in its last leg – the third reading – when female legislators rallied their colleagues into voting against the Bill, resulting in 65 MPs voting for it and 97 voting against it.

The Bill sought to align the Children Act with Section 25 of the Constitution, which states that both the father and mother have equal responsibility for maintenance of a child, however the Bill would also repeal Sections 26 and 27 of the principal Act, which deals with child custody and maintenance.

Kaluma wanted the law changed so that when a child’s parents are not married at the time of the child’s birth and do not get married thereafter, the father and mother have an equal parental responsibility instead of the child’s father having to cater for the mother and child.

During the debating of the Bill, Kaluma received heavy criticism from his colleagues including Majority Leader Aden Duale who accused him of using Parliament to satisfy his selfish interests, this owing to the fact that the Homa Bay legislator has had pending cases over child support.

“We are not in the House to create laws to fix our domestic problems,” said Duale.

Kaluma received a similar ‘beating’ from MPs under the banner of the Parliamentary Caucus on Human Rights, Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) and Caucus 47 led by Stephen Mule (Matungulu) who lauded the shelving of the Bill while urging men and women to act responsibly to alleviate the suffering children from unstable homes undergo.

“We don’t care which part of the coalition you come from, as long as we stand by the right of the children, women and men, we will make sure the Constitution is respected and everybody takes responsibility – we are not going to have kids loitering by men who don’t want to use a condom—it is painful to see people who want to use the floor of the House to antagonize the country, because of selfish interest,” said Mule.

Mule who was joined by Agostino Netto of Ndhiwa, Zipporah Kering, Nandi County Women Representative and Nyandarua Women Representative Wanjiku Muhia asked Kaluma to apologise to the children for attempting to introduce a law that would curtail on their rights.

The Bill is now suspended and will have to wait for six months before being re-introduced to the House, if the mover intends to.

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