Saturday, 22 March 2014

Polygamy has financial implications too!

It’s amazing what occupies the floor of parliament. Take the amendments to the marriage bill for example. One wonders why male MPs thought it is crucial to put into law the need NOT to seek consent from wives when a man wants to marry more – it’s not like they were asking women to begin with anyway. The fact that the clause on consent was put in there in the first place was meant to allow their wives the option of knowing when their domestic situation was going to be expanded PRIOR to its expansion. Eventually of course, most women do discover the second/third wife.
The way polygamy was defended you would think that any man can actually afford a second wife and family – they can’t. To repeat the words of one MP – “This is Africa.” Most of the population in Kenya is living under the poverty line. To demand /not demand consent in polygamy is a non-issue when you are trying to survive, nay EXIST. You can demand consent till you go blue in the face, if he can afford a second wife he will get one. If he can’t, what’s the point of a law that allows him to marry again without consent?
These are useless undertakings quite frankly. The only admirable thing about the marriage bill is that now every single marriage needs to be registered legally. See that? You want to marry as many women as you can afford but you have to do it legally meaning that if you can’t afford these wives you will be in deep trouble soon after you say “I do.”
I can only imagine the sort of trouble an “African” man is looking for when he seeks a second wife whom he shall be legally obligated to. It’s almost comedic – the matter of being just and equal and fair to all wives while single handedly providing for them, their children and all your in-laws is such a herculean task that polygamous men in Kenya can honestly consider their full time occupation as “being married.”
In some ways – it’s almost romantic that men who should genuinely be focused on being the providers for their families can take THAT much interest in being attached to yet another woman and yet more children because “This is Africa.” I think that if a man has that much love and commitment no woman should be overly concerned about whether he asked for her consent or not; clearly he is keen to be dominated by you, your co-wives, your children and domestic affairs 24/7 for the rest of his life. That’s real love, ladies!
I applaud these MPs – for making polygamous marriages legally binding and also for inadvertently forever committing themselves to all the wives they wish to marry. It is quite admirable that these legislators have chosen to bind themselves to the “old ball and chain” willingly. Usually you have to get a shotgun to make some men marry, here in Kenya they WANT to marry!
So, ladies, there is no need for getting worked up over the consent issue – to be frank, they weren’t asking for your consent before while supporting the second or third family and thus far you were still being catered to as is your right as his wife. If he wasn’t catering to you, you had the same legal channels as always to enforce your rights.
Speaking of legal channels – which many will argue are skewed in favor of men, the same courts that will recognize polygamous unions will also have to issue orders on family rights. Such that, even though “This is Africa” polygamous men will definitely have to do right by ALL their women. For example, If you are polygamous you have to provide housing for all your wives. That’s two houses if you have two wives. Or a really big house if you choose to live under the same roof. You also have to make sure you provide for your children fairly so that’s school fees, clothes, and healthcare multiplied by the number of offspring your loins can produce and that is into infinity seeing as you can marry as many as you wish.
It’s just absurd to even have a clause on consent when you really think about it. Your husband has to be a really rich person to go round marrying women and legally binding himself to a second family in Kenya, where the cost of living is considered among the highest in Africa while at the same time being bound legally to provide for you and your kids as well. As far as I can tell, rich men don’t stay rich by spending their money – never mind splitting their money and time between so many people who are legally entitled.
I am certainly not against polygamy – in fact I agree, marry as many women as you can afford. The key issue here is “afford.” Just like you didn’t need consent to marry, you also don’t need anyone to remind you that your bank account just got halved and that you have shrinking resources due to your desire to acquire wives as though they are appreciating assets. When you consider these implications, I dare say that clause on polygamy could very well mean the end of clandestine affairs, absentee husbands, mistresses and eventually will lead to the end of polygamy which legally speaking is quite an expensive matter. So thank you, dear MPs!

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