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