- The Kenya Law Review Commission has urged the government to adopt the draft Marriage Bill of 2007, under which couples will not have to pay dowry to get married if the Bill is passed by Parliament into law.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Commission, Nancy Baraza, said the current marriage laws do not take into account African customs and traditions.
The other bills include the Matrimonial Property and the Domestic Violence (Family Protection) Bill 2007.
“The old archaic English law is procedural. It never gave us substantive law for example to define what matrimonial property is, so the draft Matrimonial Property Bill 2007 kills that deficiency,” she stated.
The drafts were set aside by the Cabinet a month ago to facilitate debate on the contentious clauses.
Local reports said marriages would be considered a complete contract irrespective of the dowry, they further state that persons who choose to marry under the customary law may still opt to pay dowry.
If the Marriage Bill becomes law, the institution of marriage in Kenya will undergo radical changes.
Analysts said the new amendments are bound to trigger protests, raise eyebrows and elicit sighs of relief or jubilation depending on how one interprets the proposed law.
Clauses likely to spark controversy are those that recognise polygamous marriages, outlaw mandatory payment of dowry and one that provides for either spouse to maintain the other in case of separation.
The Marriage Bill 2007 not only recognises polygamous unions but also provides for their registration.
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