By Geoffrey Mosoku
Kenya: A woman MP who was part of a presidential entourage to Japan has sensationally accused a colleague who was on the team of sexual harassment. The married MP sent a barrage of messages to an internal platform used by MPs, giving details of how her colleague attempted to solicit sex from her. Joyce Lay, the woman representative of Taita Taveta County, has accused a fellow MP of insulting her after she allegedly declined his sexual advances at their hotel in Japan. Ms Lay, who was among a group of MPs drawn from the National Assembly Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations who travelled to Japan with President Uhuru Kenyatta, said the MP called her “useless” after she turned down his advances. The woman representative is accusing the MP, a first term legislator from Rift Valley region, of manhandling her in her hotel room last Wednesday night. “I have reported the matter to the committee and the committee chair, plus the leader of the delegation will handle it later,” Lay told The Standard yesterday. Saku MP Ali Dido Rasso was the head of the delegation from the National Assembly. The Standard is in possession of communication between the committee members in a WhatsApp chat group where chairman Ndung’u Gethenji (Tetu) is pleading with members not to use that platform to address Lay’s complaints. Gethenji did not travel with the team. “Chair (please) you gotta tell members that they cannot disrespect Women MPs just because they are women. I will bring this to the committee,” Lay began her conversation. Then Gethenji asks, “What has happened Joyce?” She responds; “Hon (name redacted for legal reasons) called me useless. In quotes; ‘You are so useless.’ I am so pissed chair, I can’t even sleep.” “We all booked on the same floor… as I was taking Hon Nyiva (Mwendwa) to her room, Hon (name redacted) went and stood at my door blocking it (so) that I don’t get in… then he told me, ‘You are so useless’.” Then the chair writes, “Members please let’s not disrespect each other. Come home and we solve the matter.” Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa appears to suggest that the accused MP has since apologised and Lay should calm down.
“Please this is not to be discussed on social media. We have solved the issue and it was a mere misunderstanding and the honourable MP has apologised. Good night.” Lay then responds; “Chris he apologised while banging my door on my face… that’s not acceptable at all. Just because I am woman.” Then Gethenji says, “Joyce. Please desist, we engage offline.” “Thanks chair, it’s 1am here. Good night!” Wamalwa responds. “Hon. Chris what do you mean by mere misunderstanding? I refuse someone’s sexual advances and he abuses me… you call it mere understanding Hon. Chris? Unbelievable! Please don’t make it worse! I have stopped because the chair said so.” At this stage, an MP interjects: “Members this is very bad to discuss such issues on social media, will harm our dignity as committee. Please come back home well.
She retorts; “Hon. I have a right even to discuss it on the floor of the House. You talk about dignity? So it’s very bad to discuss it or very bad to have been insulted by a member of the committee?” The MP then responds; “Mhesh Joyce, I can feel the pain you are undergoing. Sorry for that and I know it’s your right to discuss it but I say in good faith we can still discuss it when you are back.” Lay then responds: “So for you, women MP we go quiet and not to discuss it in social media right? I am reporting to the committee chat group because this not something I can calm down and wait until I come back. I am sure ingekuwa nyinyi wanaume, hata ngumi mngerusha sahii (if it were you men, blows would be flying right now)… I am hurt that’s why I can’t keep calm.” “Members pse handle each other with the dignity we deserve. Parliament is already injured. Pls let’s not take it to ICU. Hon Lay this is serious and no such thing can be tolerated. Keep calm and come home,” Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka adds. Lay becomes the second woman MP to be harassed by a male colleague. In the December 18, 2014 chaos in the National Assembly, Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo claimed she was accosted and her underwear pulled down by some male MPs.