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Kenyan lawmaker kicked out of Parliament for bringing 5-month-old baby

Thursday August 8, 2019

The Kenyan Parliament in Nairobi. A lawmaker there, Zuleikha Hassan, said she had attended the legislature with her baby girl because an emergency had left her without child care.Credit/Baz Ratner/Reuters

A Kenyan lawmaker was kicked out of a parliament session Wednesday for bringing her 5-month-old baby to the chamber, according to local media reports.

The Kenyan House was discussing a resolution to a border dispute with neighboring Somalia when MP Zuleikha Hassan walked into the chambers.

The session was interrupted for 15 minutes while Hassan was removed, the Star newspaper reported.

Hassan explained she had an "emergency" that forced her to bring her baby to the session, however, Parliament Speaker Christopher Omulele said her move was "unprecedented" and instructed her to be removed.

Kicking Hassan out of the parliamentary session sparked debate within the House.

"Now as we ask for more women to come into parliament, you need to provide a family friendly atmosphere," Hassan told reporters outside of the House's chambers.

Majority leader Aden Duale was not having any of that argument and said she was "out of order" and described her action as a "gross misconduct".

"We must protect the dignity of the House," he said.

Hassan found support from colleagues, with one male lawmaker suggesting for a place to provide breastfeeding.

"If you are a Member of Parliament who is breastfeeding, in the best interest of that child, the child cannot be separated from you when you are in the course of your duty in the Assembly," said Homa Bay town MP Peter Kaluma.

A bill in 2017 passed that said Kenyan employers should have a dedicated area for mothers to change and breastfeed their babies.


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