Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says

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Pia Kjaersgaard. (Twitter)
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Members of the Dutch Senate (the First Chamber) in The Hague. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says

  • In 2016, an Icelandic lawmaker made headlines after breastfeeding her infant while speaking at the podium in parliament

COPENHAGEN: A Danish lawmaker said Tuesday she was ordered to remove her infant daughter from parliament’s chamber, sparking surprise in a country often hailed as a pioneer in women’s rights.
“You are not welcome with your baby in the parliament’s chamber,” speaker Pia Kjaersgaard, an outspoken former leader of the far-right Danish People’s Party, allegedly told MP Mette Abildgaard.
“I didn’t ask for permission to bring her since I had previously seen another colleague bring a child into the chamber without any problems,” Abildgaard, whose Conservative party is part of the ruling center-right coalition, wrote on Facebook.
Abildgaard, who is in her 30s, said she found herself in an exceptional situation with her five-month-old daughter, and had never brought her into the chamber before.
But she said the infant was “in a good mood and had a pacifier in her mouth.”
Kjaersgaard passed the message to an assistant, who then asked Abildgaard to remove the baby from the room.
Abildgaard handed the child to an assistant and returned to the chamber to vote.
“MPs should be in the chamber, not babies or children,” insisted Kjaersgaard when questioned by news agency Ritzau.
She said clear rules would be issued on the subject.
The Scandinavian country is often held up as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights, and as a child and family-centered nation with generous parental leave.
Abildgaard noted that she was entitled to a year’s maternity leave with full pay, but that she had chosen to return to work.
Her Facebook post garnered more than 600 comments within the space of a few hours.
“A chamber that represents mothers, fathers and babies ought to be open to mothers, fathers and babies,” one person wrote.
In 2016, an Icelandic lawmaker made headlines after breastfeeding her infant while speaking at the podium in parliament.
And in September, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a symbol for working mothers when she brought her baby to the UN General Assembly in New York.


Sri Lanka detains 18 in hunt for those behind bombings

Updated 49 sec ago
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Sri Lanka detains 18 in hunt for those behind bombings

  • Death toll has rise to 359
  • “Based on information, we raided three locations and arrested 17 suspects,” police said

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan security forces arrested 18 suspects linked to the country’s deadly Islamist Easter bombings in overnight raids, police said Wednesday.
Spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said the suspects were held in a search operation carried out by police and security forces using emergency powers introduced since Sunday’s attacks which left more than 359 dead.
“Based on information, we raided three locations and arrested 17 suspects,” Gunasekera said. “Another suspect was arrested at a fourth location.”
Police say they have so far taken 58 people into detention since Sunday.
Gunasekera said the raids were part of security operations to track down any individuals linked to suicide bombing strike against three churches and three hotels which the Daesh group has claimed.
The Sri Lankan government has blamed a local Islamist group, the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), for the attacks which left 359 dead and 500 injured.
The security swoop came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that more Islamist radicals could be on the run and he could not rule out the possibility of further bombings.
“There are a few more people on the run,” Wickremesinghe said. “So we’ve got to apprehend them.”
In addition to arming security forces with powers to detain suspects for up to three months, the authorities have also imposed a night-time curfew since Sunday’s deadly attacks.