Kenya signs con­tro­ver­sial polygamy law

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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.

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta.

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