Commemorating IWD2020:  Maternity and Marital Rights of Female Security Officers

by Simon Sabally

Is the armed and security forces discriminating against female security personnel? The policy to discharge/dismiss a female security personnel on the grounds of pregnancy in the first 18 months of their enlistment is pure discrimination. It’s a discrimination on the grounds of maternity.

Is it not a discrimination against a female officer to deny her the right to chose her husband or marry to her mate in the same services and continue to serve in the outfit? Asking one of them to resign is a discrimination on the basis of her marital status.

Section 22(1) of the Women’s Act prohibits “every form of discrimination against women on the grounds of maternity” and sub (2) and (3) criminalise dismissal of a woman from her employment “on the basis of her marital status.” A policy cannot override a Act. Equally, service rules, regulations and manuals are subservient to Acts.

Is it just and fair to dismiss a female officer who gets pregnant within the “prohibited period” and normalize or fail to take steps against a male officer who impregnates a lady either during the period of recruitment or immediately after enlistment? These are the cracks in the implementation of the laws.

I call on government ( heads of security services) to “take adequate steps to reform existing discriminatory laws and practices in order to promote and protect the rights of women” ( section 7(4)(d) of the Women’s Act).

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