Fox News host Emily Compagno, while downplaying criticism that women’s rights are under assault in the United States, claimed this week that pregnant Kenyan women are not only denied voting rights but are also prevented from physically leaving their homes.
It didn’t take long, though, for actual Kenyans to call out her comments as misleading and demand the host and network issue a correction.
Despite the backlash, however, Compagno isn’t backing down, instead citing an unsourced website to make her case.
During a July 5 appearance on Fox News late-night “comedy” show Gutfeld!, Compagno took issue with celebrities wading into political issues and allegedly trying to “cancel” the Fourth of July. She chastised those who’ve complained that American women are losing their rights by noting that it pales in comparison to what women in other countries face.
“The insularity of these celebrities is so asinine to me! It is so nauseating. These comments are totally delusional,” the Outnumbered co-host fumed, adding: “We have less voting rights? What about in Kenya where pregnant women can’t leave the house so they absolutely have no constructive right to vote?”
As first flagged by liberal watchdog Media Matters, Compagno’s eyebrow-raising remarks about Kenya quickly drew fire on social media and among African news outlets.
“What is this? What is Emily Compagno saying? That in Kenya pregnant women can’t leave the house so they have no right to vote? What does she imagine our country is like? That statement is incorrect, misleading, condescending, and should be withdrawn,” Kenyan political strategist Pauline Njoroge tweeted.
“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 under the government #lindamama program. Retract your statement,” Esther M. Passaris, a female member of Kenya’s National Assembly, tweeted at Compagno.
As many Kenyans on social media pointed out, the African country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has actually expanded voting access to pregnant women. Alongside the elderly and those with disabilities, expectant women are able to avoid long queues and immediately skip to the front of the line.
Aside from demanding a correction, many Kenyans urged Compagno and Fox News to apologize for the host’s “ignorant” and “clueless” comments, which they felt had “trashed” their home country.
When reached for comment on the controversy, Compagno—through a Fox News spokesperson—stood by her remarks and pointed to two websites where she found the claim about pregnant women in Kenya supposedly being barred from leaving their homes. This essentially restricts their right to vote, thus her use of the word “constructive” on Tuesday night.
One site, Grazia Daily, wrote that in western Kenya, “women expecting children are prohibited by cultural norms to be seen in public, meaning that a huge portion of women are unable to go out to vote.” The other site, World Population Review, wrote: “Kenyan women are not allowed to take long walks (such as to the polls) and pregnant women are forbidden from leaving the house. High rates of disease and a history of election-related violence also keep women at home.”
Neither of the two websites cite any official sourcing to back up the claims.
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