Barely three months after the male dominated parliament dramatically passed the Matrimonial Property Bill, which was amended to strip women of the right to an equal share of family property in the case of a divorce, Kenya’s male legislators have yet again sought to make amendments that will work in their favour in the Marriage Bill.
PROMISE TO MARRY NOT BINDING
Among the clauses the legislators seek to amend is section 76 (1) of the Bill which provides for a woman to claim damages from a man in the event that he forfeits his promise to marry her.
The clause makes it clear that a promise to marry is not binding but a sub-clause that follows maintains that: ‘damages maybe recoverable by a party that suffers a loss when the other party refuses to honour a promise to marry.’
According to Ol-Jororok MP, John Waiganjo, who introduced the amendment to delete the sub-clause, the first section of the bill is clear that a promise to marry is not binding thus the second one is invalid and actually invalidates the concept of courtship.
MARRY SECOND WIFE WITHOUT CONSENT
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee has also introduced an amendment that seeks to delete another clause in the Bill, which compels men to seek consent of their first wives before marrying a second wife.
A false statement of notice of intention to marry attracts an imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or fine not exceeding one million shillings or both, as stipulated in the Bill.
TYPES OF MARRIAGE
The Marriage Bill only recognizes marriages which are as follows:
i) Christian marriages
ii) Civil marriages
iii) Customary marriages
iv) Hindu marriages
v) Islamic marriages
vi) Marriages by other faiths or groups.
The Marriage Bill 2013, which came up for a vote before the Committee of the whole House yesterday afternoon, is in the final stages of enactment. Devoid of the current amendments it faces, the Bill provides major gains for women in the marriage institution but owing to the few number of women in the house compared to the vast numbers of men, the former might just have their say but the latter will have their way once again.
Related links and articles:
Kenya Law Reform Commission
Kenya Law Report – Highlights of the Marriage Bill 2013
Kenya Forum 14 November, 2013