A new marriage bill in Kenya has been met with controversy. Marriage Bill 2012 is one of the most controversial moves by the Kenyan government, since it legalizes polygamy. The practice of polygamy was common in Kenyan ethnic tribes at the start of the 20th century. A man could have as many wives as he wanted, as long as he could provide for them all.
The new bill resurrects the practice, which has led to both scorn and approval from men and women alike. In the United States, such a measure would never be passed. But in the African American community, where educated and high earning men are in short supply, some say that this practice would be better than nothing.
“Having two or three wives is better than having one,” says Harry Bor, a college student. “It is not sensible to put all your eggs in one basket. Commitment to one person is a 50-50 chance.”
Another student, Joyce Kinyua, tells AllAfrica.com that the measure is not good.
“I would consider having many husbands if given the opportunity. If a man can have more than one wife, why can’t a woman have more than one husband?” she asks.
Kinyua’s remark is a relevant point to make. If men and women were both given the opportunity to have more than one spouse, would that make the measure more acceptable? Currently, the Kenyan bill does not allow a woman to have more than one husband.
Another student, Lucia Stella, asks whether the bill makes any sense at all.
“Whether the bill is passed or not, polygamy will still happen on the sidelines,” she says. “Polygamy is a problem at some point. When it comes to the distribution of wealth, some of the spouses might feel left out.”
The new Kenyan Marriage Bill also seeks to recognize couples that have lived together for longer than six months.
“After six months, you might not have even known the person well,” says Simon Muraguri, a businessman in Nairobi.
To read more about this bill, visit AllAfrica.com