Kenya’s President Signs Kenya Polygamy Law, Permits Men To Marry More Women

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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law
a controversial marriage bill legalising polygamy.
It brings civil law, where a man was only allowed one
wife, into line with customary law, where some
cultures allow multiple partners.
Controversy surrounded an amendment to the bill,
supported by many male MPs, allowing men to take
more wives without consulting existing spouses.
Traditionally, first wives are supposed to give prior
approval.
‘Demeaning’
Last month, female MPs walked out of parliament in
disgust after their male counterparts voted through
the amendment.
They argued that a decision to take on another wife
would affect the whole family, including the financial
position of other spouses.
The bill was also opposed by Christian leaders who
urged the president not to sign it into law, saying it
undermined Christian principles of marriage and
family.
“The tone of that bill, if it becomes law, would be
demeaning to women since it does not respect the
principle of equality of spouses in the institution of
marriage,” Archbishop Timothy Ndambuki, from the
National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), was
quoted by Kenya’s Standard newspaper as saying.
The marriage legislation has been under discussion
for several years and some initial proposals were
scrapped at committee stages.
It has abolished the practice of unofficial traditional
marriages which were never registered and could be
ended without any legal divorce proceedings.
But plans to ban the payment of bride prices were
dropped – although a person must be 18 to marry and
this now applies to all cultures.

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