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‘I had to miss important education vote as my twins needed me at home’

News | Published:

GUERNSEY’S maternity laws have been described as ‘absolutely appalling’ by a deputy.

Deputy Victoria Oliver, seen leaving the States this week, spoke of how she had to decide between voting in the lengthy education debate or go home to console her twin babies. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 26096165)

Victoria Oliver, who has 16-week-old twins, highlighted how the current legislation gave women very little protection.

‘In Guernsey, compared to other jurisdictions, we have awful maternity laws.

‘We have the statutory two weeks and that is it, it’s absolutely appalling.’

Deputy Oliver’s views on maternity rights came out in the States debate about proxy voting for parental leave.

‘At least this constitutional matter is a way to actually start to move things forward to protect women a little bit.’

She informed the, mainly male, Assembly that a woman with a new-born can experience huge physical pain if she is not given the opportunity to breastfeed or express milk.

In the recent education debate, Deputy Oliver asked the Presiding Officer at 7.20pm if she could cast a proxy vote, but was told it was not allowed.

‘I had to leave and unfortunately missed a very important vote.

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‘I would say that I’m quite a strong person, but I would say this was the only time that I’ve actually got upset because I had to miss a vote.

‘There was this pull of stay in the States to do the right thing and vote because this is what the parishioners have paid me for, and yet my husband phoned me to say that I had two very unhappy babies and no one could console them apart from myself.’

Deputy Oliver also revealed that shortly after giving birth she had received emails from parishioners complaining that she had not been present in a States debate.

She welcomed Guernsey striking out into the new territory of proxy voting: ‘We can be leaders, not followers.’

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The issue of attracting more young women to the States was also picked up by Lindsay de Sausmarez.

‘Don’t underestimate how steep the slope looks from the bottom.

‘From the outside and from someone who had never served in the States before, the States did not, and I suspect still does not, come across as a very accommodating place for people with children.

‘I think hostile is probably going a bit far, but very inflexible and very unaccommodating.

‘I just didn’t see female deputies having babies, none of the strictures of the States were accommodating of that.’

Deputy de Sausmarez welcomed the new proxy voting for parental leave as showing an important message to potential election candidates and businesses.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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