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LSK says Parliament owes Kenyans an apology for kicking out Zulekha and her baby

Kwale Woman Rep Zuleka Hassan with a bay inside the National Assembly on Aug 7, 2019. Photo/KBC Screen grab.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 9- The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has demanded that the government provides policy directives to ensure compliance with the Breastfeeding Law and protection of lactating mothers at workplaces.

In a statement, LSK President Allen Gichuhi condemned the latest incident in the National Assembly where Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan was kicked out of the debating chamber when she walked in with her 5-month-old baby.

“The LSK strongly condemns the archaic act and terms it as grossly, unfair and discriminatory to not only the Member of Parliament but also to the infant. To imagine that Zulekha and her infant were manhandled in the process is appalling and speaks volumes on the state of maternal and child health rights in Kenya vis a vis employment,” Waiyaki said in a statement.

He added that the country is on the verge of making tremendous strides towards universal health coverage thus maternal and child health should be at the core of its mandate.

The LSK further demanded that the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) issues an apology to Zulekha as well as lead by example and provide a conducive work environment for breastfeeding staff and have facilities for their comfort as required by law, to include but not limited to lactation centers.

“Breastfeeding provides unique health benefits to both the mother and the child. Breastfeeding is the healthiest start to life; it is a baby’s best vaccine and a crucial driver of the right to health. The World Health Organization(WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months and thereafter diet supplemented breastfeeding up to 2 years. This incident happening during the breastfeeding week speaks of the indifference to breastfeeding despite the known benefits and legal cushions.” he said.

Business was temporarily disrupted in the National Assembly on Wednesday when Hassan walked in with a baby during proceedings.

Temporary House Deputy Speaker Christopher Omulele had a hectic time controlling MPs in the House as some engaged in a shouting match while others could be seen shoving each other.

She was later ordered out, with Omulele advising MPs to use facilities the Parliamentary Service Commission said it had provided for lactating mothers.

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The facility is located at Red Cross building, just Opposite Parliament.

“This is my third child. I have never done this, but it is only because there was an emergency and I had no other way and I decided to come with the baby so as not to miss work,” she said, protesting that “it’s like I have been punished for having a child and it’s a very natural process.”

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