, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (KEWOPA) now wants the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi to establish a gender unit within Parliament to protect women leaders against sexual harassment.
Led by Runyenjes MP Cecily Mbarire who chairs the association, the leaders indicated that they plan to formulate a sexual harassment policy.
The women took issue with publications that had ‘demonised’ women, making it look like they deserved what befell them, saying they had listened to Joyce Lay’s story and were convinced that she was offended by a male colleague while in Japan.
“As the women of Parliament we are standing in support of our colleague Joyce Lay on the matter that happened to her in Japan. We are not going to allow anybody to make her feel like she called it upon herself… many times we know, when it comes to gender based violence the woman is always made to feel guilty for what happened to her,” complained Mbarire.
They also want the Speaker to sanction a probe against Members of Parliament who have been named as having perpetuated sexual violence against women.
“Members in questions should be investigated with a possibility of disciplinary action if they are found guilty. We are also looking to create a hotline for our members to be able to support and follow up to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book,” added Mbarire.
The women leaders also stated that they intended to work with institutions that deal with Gender Based Violence so that cases of victims of sexual harassment get justice.
Mbarire further called on the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko to fast track justice for victims of sexual violence particularly the woman who alleges she was raped by Imenti Central MP Gideon Mwiti at his Westlands office, if he is found guilty.
Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo took a swipe at one publication which listed a number of female legislators alleged to be having ‘loose morals’.
She threatened that they would take action against the paper.
“We have seen a worrying trend of harassing of women Members of Parliament. In the past we have dealt with some including mine and even honourable Shebesh and we are saying enough is enough. The government must reign in those gutter papers. We cannot have a rogue gutter press going round maligning women, we have declared war on them, even the papers must show dignity for women,” charged the Mbita legislator.
She said they were tired of being turned into objects of ridicule and were taking a stand to put the men in their place.
“We know the script that strong women are always branded as immoral. As women we have taken enough crap and we are not going to take any more crap. If the DPP is not taking action, we will; sue him, we have legal basis to do so,” threatened Odhiambo.