Move to give new face to polygamy

Friday July 8 2011

By CAROLINE WAFULA, [email protected]

A proposed marriage law gives bachelors an option to legally marry as many wives as they wish.

According to the Marriage Bill, single men may enter a polygamous marriage so long as they clearly state at the time of their first union that they were likely to marry more women.

However, those already married to one woman do not have this option. The Bill says the status quo remains so long as the union is recognised by law.

The proposed law, which seeks to introduce major changes to the family system in the country, also says that there will be no legal provision for a family or anyone to demand dowry.

Those who wish to pay any form of dowry may go ahead, but no man will be forced to do so.

Article 54 of the Bill says that an agreement to pay dowry whether made before or after the Act shall not be enforceable and breach of such contract shall not give rise to any remedies.
Sources of proposals

The proposed Bill was released by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution on Thursday.
Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo has asked Kenyans to give their views on the document.

Mr Kilonzo said yesterday that many of the proposals contained in the Bill did not come from the Justice ministry but from the public and more views were welcome.

“You cannot pinpoint the sources of those proposals. You cannot say these are ministry proposals,” said the Justice minister in an interview.

“A lot of the proposals came from the public,” he said.
The minister said contributions from the public would enrich contents of the document.

“Give your views, we want to listen to you because this is a working draft,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Kilonzo said Kenyan women were entitled to equal rights.

“The woman in Kenya today is no longer the lesser partner in marriage,” he said.

“She is entitled to equal rights with the man at the time of the marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage,” he said.

He made the remarks when he addressed women attending the launch of a United Nations report on women’s access to justice.