21 March 2014

Kenya: Parliament Passes Polygamy Measure

Photo: Michael Kaloki/RNW
Anger over Kenya's new Marriage Bill (file photo).

Kenya's parliament has passed a law that would allow men to marry as many women as they choose, without consulting existing spouses.

The measure, which passed in a session late Thursday, prompted female lawmakers to walk out of parliament.

The provision is part of new marriage legislation. Lawmakers voted to drop a clause that would have given women the right to be consulted before their husbands could have additional wives.

Witnesses say less than half of the 69 female members of parliament were present at the time. They were unable to stop the measure from clearing the 349-member National Assembly.

Nairobi's media outlet Capital FM reports parliament member Mohammed Junet reacted to the measure, saying "When you marry an African woman, she must know the second one is on the way and a third wife."

However, female members of parliament criticized the legislation as unfair.

Polygamy was previously allowed in some Kenyan cultures and religions.

The new measure needs President Uhuru Kenyatta's signature to become law.

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