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Kenyan fury over Fox News host’s claims on pregnant women voters

Emily Compagno, prominent Fox News television presenter

A prominent Fox News television presenter has triggered outrage in Kenya after she suggested that pregnant women cannot vote in the East African country.

During a panel discussion on Fox News’ satirical show “Gutfeld” this week, Emily Compagno criticised a tweet by US pop star Katy Perry on the abortion debate which said “women in the US have fewer rights than an actual sparkler”.

“What about in Kenya, where pregnant women can’t leave the house, so they absolutely have no constructive right to vote,” Compagno charged.  

The 29-second clip went viral in Kenya and dominated the country’s top trends on Twitter, with politicians and others denouncing Compagno’s comment.

“That statement is incorrect, misleading, condescending and should be withdrawn,” political commentator Pauline Njoroge said on Twitter.

Esther Passaris, the Nairobi County women’s representative in parliament, declared: “Pregnant women in Kenya are allowed to leave the house. Pregnant women in Kenya can vote.”

“Pregnant women get priority on voting lines. Pregnant women do give birth free of charge… Retract your statement,” she tweeted.

“Wait, what? In Kenya, pregnant women can’t leave the house? Emily Compagno probably (should) start by locating Kenya on the map first maybe?” mocked Charity Ngilu, one of three female county governors in Kenya.

Kenya heads to the polls on August 9 for presidential, parliamentary and county elections.

Under Kenyan law, every adult citizen has the right to be registered as a voter and cast their ballot in any election.

During Kenya’s 2017 polls, AFP reported the case of a woman who went into labour while queueing outside a polling station and returned to vote after giving birth to a baby girl.