The funny thing is that when this bill was tabled, there were a lot of men who gasped in disbelief. I know this because many men whom I interact with, talk to and keep in touch with openly looked like wounded soldiers who couldn’t go on any more.
The first thing they were aghast over was the Promise to Marry. This clause went a bit misunderstood and straight away people started saying that if you made a promise to marry someone, and didn’t do it then you owed them compensation. A bit like alimony after divorce, if I may. Understandably, the cassanovas and the budding romanticists, flirts and cupids just saw their world crumbling. How were they going to sustain false promises like ‘I love you and you have the same eyes as my future daughter who will call you Mum’? The panic bordered on hilarious because the ones who panicked the most were obviously the ones who thought they had most to lose!
My friend Sam often makes me laugh. He shakes his head and says ‘The Marriage Bill looming over Kenyans, and husbands still pick fights with their wives like they don’t even value half of all their assets…’
While some people did vent with disbelief at the bill (clearly because they didn’t fully understand it), others poked fun on Twitter and got on with life. The truth is that this Bill seems to have made many people uncomfortable and feel they stand to lose out just in case the woman turns vicious and lays false blames, demands a divorce and half of everything the man owns.
I don’t think that is the case really. I got divorced a few years back and I was married to someone very well off. I got no alimony from him at all simply because I didn’t want his money. It brought him no happiness, what would it have possibly done for me? All I asked was for child support and even that was a big hiccup for him. Only I know of the humiliation I’ve had to go through with my own lawyer, the court and this man’s demands that I get nothing. He got his wish simply because I didn’t fight for anything. Getting out of an abusive and mentally draining relationship was my only priority, and to safeguard the interests of my children, whom I didn’t want growing up watching an alcoholic man, who despite being in rehabilitation, chose to continue drinking and making a nuisance of himself.
I had a look at the Marriage Bill and also realized that this does not affect children in the way many had thought. Regardless of the fact that you may be a ‘mpngo wa kando’ who has been promised marriage but can’t marry because of the laws of Kenya, at least the children from this union are looked after. It always is such a big deal that kids in such unions are almost always neglected and no one looks out for them. A big kudos goes to the government for recognizing child rights and actually doing something about it.
In the meanwhile, if you wish to look at the marriage bill, you can follow this link and get counseling if it disturbs you so much. Yes, I’m poking fun. I find it funny.