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Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in 1914 signed into law a controversial marriage bill legalizing polygamy.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in 1914 signed into law a controversial marriage bill legalizing polygamy.

It brought civil law, where a man was only allowed one wife, into line with customary law, where some cultures allow multiple partners. Controversy however 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.

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It brought civil law, where a man was only allowed one wife, into line with customary law, where some cultures allow multiple partners.

Controversy however 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.

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.

COMMENTARY

After the bill was signed, did it have any impact to reduce the number of unmarried women?

In US for example women are not getting married and equally men are delaying to get a partner until they are in their late 40’s.

The bill was maybe only good to those who already have more than one wife but it could just be useless since polygamy is not allowed in US and a Kenyan immigrating cannot bring two wives.

revised From BBC

Jean Kamau

Columnist

Kenyan Parents in USA

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