On 29 August, a German MP was stopped from voting in the state parliament. Madeleine Henfling was told she couldn’t vote as she had her six-week-old baby with her.
Henfling – a member of the German Green Party – was told by the Thuringia state parliament president, Christian Carius, that babies are not permitted in the hall where votes take place. However, there is no explicit ban on children in place. Despite this, Henfling was kicked out of parliament for the vote.
According to reports, members of the far-right Alternative for Germany Party and Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union applauded Henfling’s removal.
No child-care provision
Speaking to CNN, Henfling condemned the decision and Carius for making it:
It’s a typical old man’s thinking. I know a lot of men who think differently than this. But for someone to say: You should just give your 6-week-child to a babysitter, especially if you are still breastfeeding them, that’s just not reality. Not for a mother… The easiest thing is really to take the child with you at this age because they sleep all the time.
She also told Deutsche Welle that the decision made her feel “second-class”:
No one wants to take their child to parliament for nine hours while debates are taking place. But I want to exercise my right as a member of parliament to vote.
I feel like a second-class parliamentarian just because I have a child to take care of.
Behind the times
Henfling’s removal has drawn attention to parental rights in politics – particularly for mothers.
Other countries, such as New Zealand, have more progressive approaches to parenthood in parliament. In recent years, breastfeeding has become increasingly common in parliaments such as Australia, Canada, Spain and Argentina. However, breastfeeding is still not allowed in the chamber of the UK House of Commons.
With this decision, it seems that Germany remains well behind the times.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Olaf Kosinsky – Wikimedia Commons.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?