Monday, November 12, 2012

Kenya proposing laws that won't work

The BBC reports 

Kenyan bid to ban bride-price payments

Kenya's government plans to ban bride-price payments, legalise polygamy and consider couples co-habiting for more than six months to be legally married.

The controversial proposals were approved by the cabinet, but will not become law until passed by parliament.
The cabinet said the bill aimed to offer legal protection to all forms of marriages in the country - Christian, Islamic, Hindu, civil and traditional.

I am far from convinced that this is an area that government can have a major effect on the practices on the ground. I have no issue with getting rid of bride prices they are as pointless as dowries in western culture. I suspect co-habitation being considered a form of legal marrage after 6 months is an attempt to deal with irresponsible fathers. The head shaker is the legalisation of polygamy. The reality is that none of the above rules will make a damn of difference to what happens the polygamy change is probably attemting to normalise the current situation but far better to just ignore it and wait for the custom to die out.  
It is intended to give women and children protection under the law.

I can think of far better legislative ways of achieving that.
'Come-we-stay' relationships
The BBC's Muliro Telewa in the capital, Nairobi, says the decision to stop the age-old custom of bride price is one of the most contentious of the proposals to harmonise the East African nation's marriage laws.
Bride prices are commonly paid by most of Kenya's more than 40 ethnic groups.
Current customary law stipulates that a marriage is not considered legal unless a bride price has been paid, usually in the form of cows.

Even couples married in a religious or civil ceremony will often not be considered bound in the traditional sense by their families unless a payment is made.

That sort of sums up the problem.
Under the new proposals, co-habiting couples in what are known in Kenya as "come-we-stay" relationships will be considered married after a six-month period.
Our correspondent says many couples, among them college students, are in such relationships.
In most of these cases, people live together for convenience and can decide to go their separate ways without any future commitment, he says.

This is verging on insanity. If after 6 months or for that matter years of co-habitation people decide to stop shagging each other and move on what the fuck has that got to do with the state ?
However, in some cases men have been known to walk out if children are born.

Wow. Amazing. There are dead beat dads in Kenya as well as the rest of the world. " Come-we-stay relationships being formalised into marriage will make no difference what so ever.
If the proposals became law, in rural areas chiefs would have to register "come-we-stay" relationships by issuing marriage certificates and ensuring that in the event of a break-up, maintenance is paid to spouses and any children.

I just don't see this working at all. Chiefly authority is constantly being erroded. The outside world is arriving you can fence your self in but you can't fence the world out to paraphrase Tolkien 
'Against tradition'
The proposals on legalising polygamy are intended to bring civil law - where a man is only allowed one wife - in line with customary law where some cultures allow for multiple partners.
Despite allowing polygamy, the cabinet says men and women should have equal status within all marriages with regards to property and inheritance.

How the hell does that work with regard to polygamy ?
Gay marriages would not be allowed as they are banned under Kenya's constitution, and the proposals would not affect communities which allow women to marry each other if the older partner is infertile, as these partnerships are usually to do with property inheritance.

Governments have no place in citizens bedrooms.
Our reporter says the proposals have caused a big stir on social media sites because many people say some of the changes go against traditional and religious values.
As 90% of MPs are men, their past performance on issues of custom and tradition suggests they are likely to oppose sections of the bill, he says.

Probably there are issues of far more import that the politicians of Kenya should be worring about.

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