Kenyan men are patting each other on the back following a chauvinistic vote in Parliament that empowers them to “marry as many women as they want” under customary law.
The passage of the bill by the heavily male dominated house has angered educated Kenyan women as demonstrated by their colleagues in Parliament who boycotted sittings of the House.
Customary practice in most African countries permitted men to marry more than one, but appears to be the first time it has been formalized in any Parliament, an in a most annoying way to women.
African customary practices allow the first to lead the search for additional wives, with the old ones being compensated for the invasion of turf and incoming competition, but the Kenyan law rides roughshod over the wife’s feelings.
As a draft the bill gave a wife “the right to veto the husband’s choice”; but the male members of parliament momentarily forgot their political differences to deny incumbent wives any veto privileges and common courtesies.
Said an MP, Junet Mohammed: “When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way, and a third wife… this is Africa.
As in many parts of Africa, polygamy is common among traditional communities in Kenya, as well as among the country’s Muslim community, which accounts for up to a fifth of the population.
Chairman of Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Samuel Chepkong, held similar views: “Any time a man comes home with a woman, that would be assumed to be a second or third wife”, adding: “Under customary law, women or wives you have married do not need to be told when you’re coming home with a second or third wife. Any lady you bring home is your wife.