Towards the end of last week, there had been a lot of uproar over the bill that would ‘legalize’ come we stay unions after exactly 6 months. There had been very heated debates online and offline, with the women supporting it while men opposed it ‘with all their hearts’.
Supposedly, the bill, if it became law would give chiefs the power to register the ‘come we stay’ affairs as marriage after six months. This would then prepare the way for property ownership agreements between the spouses; something men were not particularly comfortable with.
In a statement released on Saturday, The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, CIC, clarified key facts about the Marriage Bill 2012. They are as follows:
- The marriage bill 2012 does not recognize come-we-stay unions as alleged in the press it only gives a definition of Cohabiting as “a living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship that resembles a marriage.”
- The marriage bill does not provide for Chiefs nor does it grant them the power to consider come-we-stay arrangements as marriages or be required to register them. What it provides for is a director appointed by the Board of Kenya Citizen and Foreign National Management Service under the
Kenyan Citizen and Foreign National Management Service Act.(Clause 57)
- The Director is responsible for various duties including; registration of all marriages, issuance of marriage certificates and the certificate of no impediment, and determination of rules governing customary marriages (Clause 57 (1) and 2(a) and (b))
- The Director may also be authorized by to the Service to appoint marriage officers at national level; and in consultation with County executives at the county and lower levels, as may be necessary for the effective carrying out the functions of the Director under this Act (Clause 57(3).)
- The recognition of polygamous or potentially marriages is restricted to those contracted under African Customary law and Islamic Law (clause 4). Further it provides that potentially polygamous marriages may be converted to monogamous marriages upon agreement by both parties (Clause 9).
- On dowry the bill provides that where dowry is part of the evidence of customary marriage, it shall not be used in a manner to prohibit the enjoyment of the right to found a family by an eligible person (Clause 47).
- The filling of a notice of intention to marry only applies to Christian, and Civil marriages under clauses 21 and 31 respectively.