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MP Zulekha says she has no regrets for taking a toddler to Parliament chambers

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

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Hassan says she has no regrets for taking her baby to parliament chambers during proceedings in outright defiance of house rules.

The legislator, who was kicked out on the orders of the speaker, told Capital News that her move was meant to highlight the plight of Kenyan women, who she said remain looked down upon by their male counterparts.

“I am not a fool. I knew what I was doing,” she asserted. “Before I left home, I said enough is enough. I had to do something.”

In a male-dominated parliament, the MP says she expected the kind of reaction she received but cautions the drama that ensued should not overshadow her quest to ensure women leaders with children have their rights protected.

For long, she lamented that Kenyan women have been forced to choose between giving birth and pursuing their career, which she says is archaic.

“Why are made to feel guilty for being mothers?” she posed.

According to the MP, cases of breastfeeding women or even those pregnant being denied their rights are rampant in the country.

“There are even employers denying women employment opportunities because they are pregnant,” she pointed out.

The mother of three hopes her actions will inspire other women in Kenya and the world to speak out for their rights.

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The Law Society of Kenya has since 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 on Thursday.

He noted that, “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,” the LSK President said.

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