Marriage: New rules for Kenyans

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The marriage bill that his Excellency signed last week sparked a bit of controversy, with people debating the pros and cons of it. But for the most part, the changes are favorable for women.

“All marriages will be issued with marriage certificates, including customary marriages. Before this, customary marriages were treated as inferior with no marriage certificates. This opened up suffering for the women because they could not legally prove they were married to a particular man. ” – Christine Ochieng, executive director of the nation’s Federation of Women Lawyers.

Even so, one thing makes this bill a little bitter. While I am not opposed to people choosing polygamy, I find that not letting women have a say in whether they want to become sister wives is. I have a few married girlfriends and I brought this up with them, and this is the scenario I want you to picture as well: You married Jim last year and things have been going great. Fast forward 10 years and 2 kids later, and Jim starts bringing a girl over and introduces her as ‘aunty Fiona’…then later tells you they’re planning their wedding for later that year and you can’t do didly about it.

They denied that it would ever happen or that they would let it or just leave if it did, but life doesn’t really play out like that. People change over time, the law permits men to taken other wives with out the consent of the first and having a family makes it a little hard to just pack up and leave.

Something that worried me is the lack of outrage when news of this loophole hit the interwebs. My peers seem to think that they are removed from the implications of this marriage bill. Do people realize that when you do get married 3+ years from now that all this is applicable to you? It may be a non issue now but one day it will affect one of us [in]directly and we’ll whine about how patriarchal our society is. If we don’t pay attention to the small details, the shit storm that hits us later will be well deserved.

Now for women that choose polygamy and like the Aiel in Wheel of Time embrace it wholeheartedly, don’t let the negative comments from other women bring you down or label you a victim. A woman, a cconsensual adult, can choose to accept another woman in her marriage if she so chooses.

“..prohibiting polygamy on “feminist” grounds—that these marriages are inherently degrading to the women involved—is misguided. The case for polygamy is, in fact, a feminist one and shows women the respect we deserve. Here’s the thing: As women, we really can make our own choices. We just might choose things people don’t like.” – 

 

Yes, I am condoning polygamy, and to some that may be questionable but I have no right to judge how other people choose to live their lives, neither do you!

Another issue I have is the limitation of the number of wives…is there one? This could lead to serious issues. If a man cannot provide for all his wives and children and wants to take on wife number four what will stop him? It really is ridiculous.

Women should have a say in deciding if they want a co-wife. Marriage is a partnership where decisions are made by both partners. Deciding things like finances, living situation, how the children will be raised etc can’t just be decided by the man even if he is the soul-bread winner. Gentlemen, involving your wife in the process of picking wife number two may make the transition easier and if she objects the idea entirely, respect that.

Finally, the group chanting ‘men are hard-wired to spread their seed’ , saying polygamy will reduce the number of cheating husbands are incredibly delusional. A man is not an animal, we have strength of will and are not ruled by basic animalistic urges so anyone who uses this excuse is no better than I lion during mating season.

I don’t know what outcomes this bill will have for me and those close to me, but staying quiet will definitely not help amend the system.

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