The Kenya Forum | The new constitution was supposed to protect women, why isn't it? - The Kenya Forum

March 22, 2014


The new constitution was supposed to protect women, why isn’t it? We are talking in response to the latest marriage bill amendments.

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The new constitution was supposed to protect women, why isn’t it?

The new constitution was supposed to protect women, why isn’t it?

Musa Mseleku and wives

The gains that the Marriage Bill 2013 seemed to offer women in Kenya are diminishing, if at all there are any left, thanks to male politicians in parliament who have amended the Bill to work in their sex’s favour – read ‘Marriage bill amendments seem to be hugely favourable to men’

Yesterday, female MPs tried as usual to counter their male counterpart’s agenda to amend the Bill in order to delete a clause that sought to fight polygamy among others but the men won the day owing to their numbers, vastly in the majority over the women.


As it stands it will no longer be required for men to consult their wives before considering marrying another woman, or rather to consult their other wives, as the marriage bill had originally outlined, therefore opening a window to more polygamy.

According to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkong’a, any lady a man brings home is a wife and the first wife doesn’t need to be consulted as is the case under customary law.

Suna MP, Mohammed Junet, argued that any married African woman should always expect co-wives. So welcome to the 21st century.

“When you marry an African woman she must know that the second one is on the way, the third one and the fourth one Mr. Speaker,” he said.

Disgusted, disappointed and humiliated by the selfish move by the male MPs, female MPs stormed out of the House.


An effort by the Majority Leader Aden Duale to have Islamic marriages exempted from some clauses in the Marriage Bill was quickly dismissed by both MPs and members of the Legal Affairs Committee.

Duale first proposed for Islamic marriages to be exempted from registration arguing that a marriage in Islamic law is independent of registration. The Bill mandates for all marriages to be registered.

He also sought to introduce another provision which sought to challenge the minimum legal age for parties to a marriage as outlined in the Bill (18 years) in order to allow for the age limit in an Islamic marriage to be in accordance with Islamic law. This was easily quashed as well.


For as long as the number of men in parliament continue to vastly outnumber women representatives, the latter will continue to lose out on legislation that was designed to work in their interest.

Unfortunately history keeps repeating itself. In November last year male MPs dramatically passed the Matrimonial Property Bill, which they had amended to strip women of the right to an equal share of family property in the case of a divorce. The Matrimonial Property Bill had granted divorced couples the right to share property equally irrespective of the contribution of each spouse.

As we said, Kenyan Forum readers, particularly to those of the female gender, welcome to Kenya, welcome to the 21st century.


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