Martha Karua criticises Senate for alleged mishandling of Orwoba’s case
In a recent development, Nominated Senator Gloria Orwoba finds herself at the center of a heated controversy after the Senate suspended her for six months following the adoption of a recommendation by the Powers and Privileges Committee, chaired by Senate Speaker Amason Kingi. The suspension is a result of allegations made against her, including unsubstantiated claims of sexual favours within parliamentary officials and allegations of discrimination in parliament, which she posted on the Senate Business WhatsApp group.
The Senate’s decision to suspend Senator Orwoba has raised significant questions and concerns. In a majority vote, senators opted for suspension, potentially leading to the loss of her privileges and benefits as a senator until February of next year. To regain her position, Senator Orwoba will need to issue an apology before the Senate after the suspension period ends.
During the suspension period, Senator Orwoba will face several restrictions. She will be barred from accessing the precincts of parliament and will not be allowed to attend Senate plenary and committee sessions. This suspension will also result in the loss of her sitting allowances.
The suspension has not gone unnoticed, with prominent figures in Kenyan politics expressing their concerns. Martha Karua, the leader of the Narc Kenya party, publicly condemned the suspension, describing it as “manifestly unfair and excessive.” She pointed out that the Senate’s decision sends a message to women that reporting cases of sexual harassment may lead to severe consequences, effectively silencing them.
“A dismissal of the charges would have sufficed if at all the evidence fell short. This is patriarchy silencing women on matters of sexual harassment,” said Karua in a social media post.
Karua for further investigation into the matter and emphasised the importance of ensuring that victims of sexual harassment are not discouraged from reporting such incidents.
Karua further criticised the language used during the debate on the suspension, which she found paternalistic, especially towards young female senators. She argued that such language is unacceptable and can deter reporting of sexual abuse or harassment.
“Whereas we ought to be careful not to punish the innocent, similarly, we must be even more careful not to discourage reporting of sexual abuse or harassment.” read Karua’s post
Senator Orwoba’s suspension has ignited a broader discussion about the representation of women in the Senate. Currently, men make up the majority of legislators in the Senate, with a notable gender imbalance. Karua’s comments highlight the need for a more inclusive and supportive environment for women in Kenyan politics.
In response to the suspension, Senator Orwoba herself has come forward with claims that she was not given an opportunity to defend herself. In a video message from outside the country, she asserted that the Senate charged her with retaliation but did not allow her to present her side of the story. She expressed frustration over not receiving travel reports, which she believes would support her allegations against the Clerk.
“I have repeatedly asked for evidence. In fact, my latest one is a letter I wrote saying that Senate has to release a Travel report because it is obvious when it comes out it will not be my word against the Clerk,” said Orwoba
Senator Orwoba also raised concerns about the timing of the suspension, suggesting that it was strategically planned when she was away and unable to defend herself. She questioned why the Senate did not wait for her return and instead pushed for her suspension.
The controversy surrounding Senator Orwoba’s suspension raises critical questions about due process and fair treatment within the Senate. It also underscores the importance of addressing allegations of sexual harassment and corruption in parliament in a transparent and equitable manner.
As this situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how it will impact the broader conversation on gender equality and representation in Kenyan politics.