Polygyny Legalization & Women’s Inheritance: An African Response to Homophilic Marriage Legalization Pressures

Kenyan President Signs Polygyny Law

It brings civil law, where a man was only allowed one wife, into line with customary law, where some cultures allow multiple partners.  It allows men to take more wives without consulting existing spouses.  It has abolished the practice of unofficial traditional marriages which were never registered and could be ended without any legal divorce proceedings.  Kenyans now have to be 18 to marry and this applies to all cultures.  The law now allows for equal property and inheritance rights – previously a woman had to prove her contribution to the couple’s wealth.

“Through polygamous marriages women in precolonial Africa often had greater personal autonomy. As new wives joined a compound, older ones could focus on their trading. And successful women traders, such as the Iyalodes in Yorubaland, had a lot of power. While autonomous female traders are traditionally linked to West Africa, studies have found a long history of women’s trading also in places such as among the Kikuyu in Kenya as well as groups in Uganda and Zambia.

Of course, whatever autonomy polygamy afforded back then, it was subsumed by colonialism and the rise of puritanical missionary teaching.”

“That is not to say that married life was all that mattered to women, or that polygamy didn’t come with advantages for women, like independent trading, finances and legal rights.

Read more at:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-27206590

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s