Morning proceedings of the Kenya’s parliament on Wednesday were temporarily brought to a standstill after a legislator entered the chambers with her five-month-old baby.
Christopher Omulele, who was serving as the speaker, ordered Kwale Woman Representative Zuleika Hassan to withdraw from the chamber saying it is not the right place to take care of her child.
A section of male MPs and the women lawmakers, however, supported Ms Hassan urging her to stay put causing a standstill within the chambers.
The speaker called the sergeant-at-arms to evict Ms Hassan who by then was being shielded by her female counterparts.
“As much as she has a right to take care of her child, this not the right place, I therefore direct that you immediately withdraw from the chambers,” ordered Mr Omulele.
Addressing the press after leaving the chambers, Ms Hassan in the company of other women MPs said she got an emergency this morning and had to come with the baby to Parliament.
I had an emergency and decided not to miss work but come with the baby. She is not an atomic bomb and can’t explode,” Ms Hassan said.
Kenyan MPs in 2013 passed a motion directing the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) to set aside a room within Parliament buildings for breastfeeding mothers. This is yet to be done six years later.
Ijara MP Sophia Abdi Noor said it is unfortunate that such an incident could happen in Parliament where laws are made and wondered of the fate of working mothers in the country.
“This child has a right, if they don’t establish a breastfeeding room then we will urge all women with breastfeeding children to come with their children in the chambers so as to send a message,” Ms Noor said.
Kitui South MP Rachel Nyamai questioned why the PSC has failed to give priority to young mothers by setting up a crèche.
“This child has a right to be with the mother and we don’t understand why she is being sent away,” Ms Nyamai said.
Laikipia North legislator Sarah Korere accused PSC of ignoring the plight of nursing mothers saying exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is very important.
“Lawmakers must lead by example and today we are saying enough is enough,” Ms Korere said.