By Keefa Kaweesa
For the last couple of days, the media has been awash with news of the recalling pregnant women officers stationed in the august House.
As the lucky cops have been rubbing shoulders with the legislators, the Police action has attracted artillery from MP’s of which the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has yet to respond to including his boss General Nyakairima.
The legislators have threatened to take the issue to the floor. The Parliamentary Women’s Association has termed the action unconstitutional hurriedly forgetting to take the issue to the Constitutional Court for interpretation. The MPs states that getting pregnant should not deprive anyone of their right to work and that people are entitled to marriage and recreation. i think she meant proclamation and their i concur with the honourable.
The 26 unlucky female students of UCU Mukono who were recently suspended from university for an action termed “immoral” did not have an “ear” with legislators, not even when the university don repeated the same statement at the martyrs’ celebrations on June 3. However, of recent, there is relief as the same statement is being watered down. These two incidents provide concrete demonstration and evidence that pregnant women, irrespective of where they are at times suffer intimidation, harassment, sex abuse and discrimination in different places of work and institutions of learning.
In 1978, the US congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) to protect pregnant workers from discrimination in the work place. Under the act, the PDA guarantees the right not to be treated adversely because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. it requires employers to treat pregnant employees at least as well as other employees “not so affected but similar in their ability to work.
A law enforcement agency may not remove a pregnant officer from her assignment; compel her to assume a light duty assignment, unless she cannot perform the essential functions of a police officer. In other words, a pregnant officer should only be assigned a light duty status under the same criteria that other temporarily disabled employees are so assigned, namely, for medical necessity.
It is unlawful for an employer to take “anticipatory” action against a pregnant employee, or to make assumptions about the impact that a pregnancy might have on a woman’s ability to do her job.
In the case of the United States v Virginia, the Supreme Court ordered the Virginia military institute (VMI) to admit capable women into its student’s body. But the court ordered more: it directed VMI, where necessary to make adjustments and alterations to the institution to facilitate the admission of women.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted that to achieve real quality in the work place, institutions may have to make changes that serve to accommodate the “celebrated” difference between men and women without relegating women to an inferior position. The fact that only women can become pregnant is clearly one of the “celebrated” differences to which Justice Ginsburg refers.
In the case of Tysinger v Police department of the city of Zanesville, the judge ruled that “discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition is defined as a type of sex discrimination and is prohibited”. All across the world, efforts are being made to ensure the equal treatment of women is being reached.
This is especially noticeable in countries such as Sweden, the Netherlands, and Austria however, inequalities may still exit now, but at the rate of how things are changing, it is more than possible to change the social norms that have been engrained into the minds of people on the police force. In other countries, to counter the chilling effects of harassment, discrimination, and negative stereotyping on the job, women officers have turned to one another for support. Many women don’t complain about discrimination because they don’t want to be labeled, and so the discrimination goes unreported even in departments that have policy to prevent it.
In conclusion, therefore, it is my humble submission that the legislators should capture this golden opportunity and come up with a law to adequately protect pregnant women.
The writer is lawyer