A new survey conducted by Ipsos Synovate says 64 percent of Kenyans support the legalisation of come -we-stay relationships that have lasted over six months as proposed by the Marriage Bill while 36 percent are against it.
Under the proposed Marriage Bill, Chiefs will have the power to consider cohabitation - popularly referred to as "come-we-stay" arrangements - as marriages and will be required to register them as such.
Ipsos Synovate MD Margaret Ireri said 36 percent of those against the proposed law felt that the period is too short for couples to know each other well, 18 percent argued that laws should not force people to marry, while nine percent felt that women will use it to trap men.
"Men who are against it feel the law can be used by unscrupulous women to trap them into marriages they are not ready for," explained Ireri.
The survey found out that cohabiting was highest in Nairobi where a third of respondents were in this type of union and lowest in the North Eastern region at five percent.
Support for the legislation of 'come-we-stay' relationships is highest in Eastern, Western regions at 74 percent and 71 percent respectively and lowest in North Eastern at 44 percent.
An overwhelming 80 percent of those polled do not support polygamy as compared to 20 percent who do but more men than women support polygamy.
More than a quarter of Kenyans polled in every region support polygamy except for Eastern where over half of respondents (53 percent) support it.
30 percent of those polled said they supported the proposed law because the six months is enough time for couples to know each other well, 22 percent said it will enable the institution of marriage to be taken seriously and 17 percent felt the law will ensure that men do not take advantage of women.
11 percent felt it will reduce adultery.
Customary/traditional marriage was the most prevalent by far among 18-24 year olds where 69 percent had this type of marriage compared to less than half in all other age categories.
The Bill recognises Christian, Islamic and Hindu marriage laws as well as marriages consummated under Civil and African Customary law. With the exception of marriages contracted under either customary or Islamic law, all other marriages are presumed to be monogamous, so those cohabiting have to agree to have monogamous unions.
In the Ipsos Synovate poll, majority of those who are married have been in their unions for more than five years (70 percent). Slightly over one quarter (26 percent) have been in their unions for between one and five years.
64 percent of the respondents in the survey were single, 32 percent married, two percent divorced and one percent widowed or separated. Rural areas had a higher percent of single respondents. (68 percent compared to married 29 percent).
In urban areas single respondents formed 58 percent of those sampled and married 38 percent.
The proportion of married respondents decreased with education levels. While 89 percent of respondents with no formal education were married, only 42 percent of those with university education were married.
The proportion of those married increased with age with 18-24 years old having the lowest percentage (24%) compared to 35-45years old (90 percent) and those over 45 year old (87 percent)
Rift Valley and Eastern had the highest proportion of married people at 73 percent and 71 percent respectively. North Eastern and Nairobi region had the fewset married people at 40 percent and 45 percent respectively.