Kenya legalises polygamy for men
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday signed a law allowing men to marry as many women as they want without consent from their other wives.
Kenyan women, however, can customarily only marry one man.
Lawmakers passed the bill in March after a heated debate that saw female lawmakers storm out of parliament.
Male parliamentarians argued that polygamous marriage is a man’s right upheld both by the Bible and by African tradition.
“Under customary law, women or wives you have married do not need to be told when you are coming home with a second or third wife,” legislator Samuel Chepkong’a said during the March debate.
He has argued that “Any lady you bring home is your wife.”
Female parliamentarians argued the bill would disrupt marriages and impoverish families when a man’s wealth had to be split up between multiple wives and children.
Women groups and some church leaders also criticised the bill.
“The idea that men can marry as many wives as they wish does not augur well with the expectations of a modern society like ours,” some women groups have said.
Polygamous relationships are common among many ethnic groups in Kenya, though they were not legally recognised until now. Polyandry is not known to exist in Kenya.
The new law defines marriage, whether monogamous or polygamous, as only existing between man and woman.
It rules out gay marriage, which is widely opposed in Kenya.