It’s been a dramatic week for Kenyans after parliament passed the matrimonial bill that strips women of the right to an equal share of family property in the case of a divorce.
Male MPs who voted unanimously in favour of the bill changed the clause which initially proposed that property acquired at the beginning, during and at dissolution of marriage would be shared on a 50-50 basis among the spouses to state that; ‘a man and his wife shall share matrimonial property according to each person’s contribution in the event of a divorce. Only jointly-owned property would be shared equally.’ However, the bill states that any debt inquired for the benefit of the marriage will be shared equally between the man and the wife.
Efforts by women MP’s to oppose the bill were thwarted as their male counterparts outnumbered them. There were only 34 women in the house when 87 legislators voted in favour of the bill while 28 voted against it.
MEN PLEASED, WOMEN SHORTCHANGED?
Men across the country were pleased by the bill with some arguing that finally the bill will control the number of women who marry for the man’s wealth and later ask for a divorce. Women, on the other hand, may feel short-changed. Many are within their rights to be of the opinion that the investment a woman makes in her family most of the time cannot be quantified by money. The bill, it could be argued, is therefore unfair.
Women rights groups have protested the passing of the amended Matrimonial Property Bill. FIDA have termed the bill as a violation of the constitution while Maendeleo ya Wanawake group says the bill is unfair to women.
“Any man desires a woman who would is a home maker, a woman who is home most of the time taking care of the family while the man takes his role of being the provider, in the end of a marriage we should both gain,” says Maryanne Muthoni in an online discussion on the bill.
“When you get married, ‘I’ ceases to exist and its replaced by ‘WE’, thus anything in that marriage union belongs to both of you regardless of who bought it,” says Alice Mueni adding that for every successful man there is a woman behind him.
Daniel Matheka however argues that women should stop fooling them that they invest their time cooking, washing and what have you for their men, because nowadays house girls have taken up those roles.
MARRIAGE EQUALS FINANCIAL STABILITY?
Traditionally, the role of a man has been established as that of a provider and many women have grown up with the mentality that getting married to a financially stable man is the game-changer for their lives. Some women are even comfortable stay-at-home mums through mutual agreements with their husbands, which is not a bad thing if one is to be married happily for as long as the couple lives. This will however be a disadvantage to them in the unfortunate event of a divorce.
MODERN WOMAN TOO MUCH FOR MEN?
In the view of this Kenya Forum correspondent, the Bill is in good taste. Women have for a long time been perceived by the society as victims of circumstances hence most focus has been on women including legislation that favours them at the expense of men.
Unfortunately with the birth of the modern woman comes with it a new breed of women whom the modern man is often times at a loss on how to handle and actually men have been falling victims as well in the hands of such women.
Judging from cases we have been witnessing lately in the society of the extents spouses will go just to get hold of their matrimonial property including killing the other party, we can only hope that cases of divorce will drop in this case and that the number of widows won’t go up if the president signs the matrimonial property bill into law!