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Police recall pregnant officers

PARLIAMENT- “Isaac, just leave me. I cannot tell you anything about that. Let me suffer the consequences in silence,” Jane (not real name) says. She is one of the four female police officers who have been recalled from their posting at Parliament because they became pregnant.

Jane says she has chosen to suffer the consequences – of being pregnant – in silence because she does not know what awaits her from her bosses.

“I have to remain professional in all this, I cannot talk,” she said. “Go away from here before anyone sees me with you.”

But while she wants to remain quiet about the matter, this case had by yesterday attracted the attention of women rights bodies and MPs, all expressing outrage at the Police’s decision.

Speaking to the Daily Monitor, Parliament spokesperson Hellen Kaweesa said the Clerk to Parliament has written to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, asking that the recalled officers be reinstated and given lighter duties.

“The [Parliament] Commission noted that the police action is unfair, unconstitutional and discriminatory and so the clerk has written on behalf of the commission asking that those officers be reinstated and the recall letters be revoked with immediate effect,” she said.

Police say the women officers were recalled for the good of their health, their unborn children and for the efficiency of the Force.

“Being pregnant is not a crime in Police,” deputy police spokesperson, Ms Polly Namaye told the Daily Monitor yesterday. However, she said the officers were recalled because “pregnancy had got in the way of their work”.

A police statement released yesterday named the officers transferred from Parliament as: SGT Francis Bongomin, WCPL Phoebe Nakisita, PC David Mugume, PPC Derick Bagonza, WC Peace Mary, WC Alaisa Namubiru, Rosette Mirembe and WPC Christine Nakirya.

Ms Namaye said they have been posted to the Human Resource Management Department to work there as they await the birth of their babies.

“Our uniform must be worn with a tight belt. Pregnant officers cannot wear belts meaning they cannot put on uniforms and without a uniform, one will be compromising duty,” she said.
MPs and women activists have not accepted this line of argument, though.

Ms Gertrude Nakabira, the Lwengo Woman MP and member of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), condemned the act saying getting pregnant should not deprive anyone of their right to work and that people are entitled to marriage and recreation as a right regardless of career.

“While I do not understand what their professional code of conduct says, it is a human right for women to give birth and human beings being rational animals, we do not have to first get permission from our bosses to become pregnant,” she said.
Ms Namaye had said the Force is not insensitive to the human rights of its personnel.
“Our transfers are normal. We are mindful of the welfare of our personnel and their rights but we are also mindful of the efficiency of the personnel that we put at Parliament,” she said.

Ms Tina Musuya, the executive director of Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP), also described the decision as “completely unfair” and “unbecoming”.

“Pregnant women must always be helped and the signal Police is sending is they are punishing women for their biological role of ensuring the continuity of the human species. Everyone has a right to be employed and treated equally. The men who are responsible are never treated in the same way,” she said.

Meanwhile, House sources say four other officers were recalled on grounds of indiscipline, a fact confirmed by Ms Namaye.

“We recalled eight officers from Parliament and we have already replaced them with eleven new ones,” she said. Although she didn’t avail their names, sources from within the police detail at Parliament named some as Ms Grace Namayanja and Mr Thomas Anyeko.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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