Kenya Legalizes Polygamy without Wife’s Consent

AFRICA, 24 Mar 2014

Peter Martell, AFP – TRANSCEND Media Service

Kenya’s parliament has passed a bill allowing men to marry as many women as they want, prompting a furious backlash from female lawmakers who stormed out, reports said Friday [21 Mar 2014].

The bill, which amended existing marriage legislation, was passed late on Thursday to formalise customary law about marrying more than one person.

The proposed bill had initially given a wife the right to veto the husband’s choice, but male members of parliament overcame party divisions to push through a text that dropped this clause.

“When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way, and a third wife… this is Africa,” MP Junet Mohammed told the house, according to Nairobi’s Capital FM.

As in many parts of Africa, polygamy is common among traditional communities in Kenya, as well as among the country’s Muslim community, which accounts for up to a fifth of the population.

“Any time a man comes home with a woman, that would be assumed to be a second or third wife,” said Samuel Chepkong’a, chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.

“Under customary law, women or wives you have married do not need to be told when you’re coming home with a second or third wife. Any lady you bring home is your wife,” he added.

– Men fear ‘women’s tongues’ –

Female MPs stormed out of the late-night session in fury after a heated debate.

“We know that men are afraid of women’s tongues more than anything else,” female legislator Soipan Tuya told fellow MPs, according to Capital FM.

“But at the end of the day, if you are the man of the house, and you choose to bring on another party — and they may be two or three — I think it behoves you to be man enough to agree that your wife and family should know,” she added.

A clause in which a partner who had promised marriage but then backed out of the wedding could face financial damages was also dropped, as male MPs argued it could have been used to extort cash.

They also argued that marriage should be based on love, and not have a financial cost placed upon it.

Parliamentary majority leader Aden Duale, a Muslim, said that men marrying more than one woman was part of the Islamic faith, but also highlighted Biblical stories to justify Christians not asking their wife before taking another.

“I want my Christian brothers to read the Old Testament — King David and King Solomon never consulted anybody to marry a second wife,” Duale told the house.

Women are not allowed to marry more than one man in Kenya.

The bill must now pass before the president to be signed before becoming law.

Go to Original – yahoo.com

 

Share this article:


DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Comments are closed.