Two men on Sunday agreed to share a woman in a written contract in which they vowed never to fight over her.
The pair from Kisimani in Kisauni, Mombasa County, made the deal after realising they have both been having an affair with the woman for more than four years.
Community policing officer Adhalah Abdulrahman said he came to know of the two during a fight. “I heard people fighting and went to check, but I was surprised to see two men fighting over a woman who is said to be a widow and a mother of twins. I tried solving the issue but they refused, each insisting he could not live without the woman,” said Mr Abdulrahman.
When asked to make a choice, the woman also declined, saying she could not live without either of the men. This made them agree to take turns to live with her.
Mr Sylvester Mwendwa, one of the ‘husbands’, said they decided to share the woman with Mr Elijah Kimani.
Mr Mwendwa claimed he went to the woman’s parents and was given permission to live with her and pay bride price when he was ready.
ALMOST UNHEARD OF
Whereas polygamy — one man having more than one wife — is legal in Kenya and widely practised by various communities, polyandry — one woman having more than one husband — is almost unheard of.
Lawyers said the two men would have to prove that it has been part of their custom to practise polyandry, otherwise the union would not stand.
Ms Judy Thongori, a family lawyer told the Nation that polyandry is more abnormal than illegal since the laws that govern marriage in Kenya do not clearly forbid it. Marriage in Kenya is regulated by the Marriage Act, and the African Christian Marriages and Divorce Act and supplemented by customary laws of different communities.
“The laws we have do not talk about it but for such a union to be recognised in Kenya, it has to be either under the statutory law or as customary marriage. The question we should ask now is whether these people come from communities that have been practising polyandry,” she said.
Law Society of Kenya chairman Eric Mutua added: “When you look at the Constitution, it says that the family is the fundamental unit of the society. It says a person, not persons, has a right to marry a person of the opposite sex based on free consent.
“If they are able to show that polyandry has been their custom, that is fine but we don’t know any Africa community that does that,” Mr Mutua said.
Article 45 of the Constitution adds that marriage can be recognised if it follows a set of traditions, religious practices, personal or family law, as long as those practices do not violate the law.
According to Mr Abdulrahman, the other ‘husband’ was also allowed to live with her and pay the bride price when ready.
“I talked to both of them and they claim they love her equally and cannot live without her. I asked the woman to choose but she refused, saying ‘I cannot lose either of them, I love them both’”, said Mr Abdulrahman.
The woman asked for anonymity.
Efforts by the Nation to get a comment from the other man were futile as his phone was switched off.
Mr Abdulrahman added that they approached his office with an agreement stating shifts in the house, respect for one another, and that if she gives birth they will both raise the child.
“We discussed everything and they agreed that even if the woman gives birth they will raise the child as their own since they have been taking care of the woman’s children together and paying her rent equally,” he revealed.
TAKEN TO COURT
He said the three are aged between 25 and 31.
Locals, however, did not take the news kindly, saying the three should be taken to court.
“We have never heard of something like this in Kenya, it is uncouth, untraditional unbiblical and against the holy books, including the Koran. Why on earth would a woman be shared by two men? They should be taken to court and punished,” said Mr Tumaini Juma, a Kisauni resident.