- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Churches across the East African nation of Kenya have expressed opposition to a bill that if signed into law would legalize polygamous marriages.
As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta considers signing the marriage bill into law, his administration faces the vocal opposition of multiple church groups. In late March, Christ is the Answer Ministries Bishop David Oginde read a joint statement from numerous church leaders denouncing the bill as a threat to the family unit.
"Let us give sober and informed decisions to family issues, and not attempt to weaken it … The state is as solid as its families and so all laws should be made to strengthen, not weaken the family," stated Oginde.
"How do you ensure faithfulness in polygamy? We submit that the fight against Aids is weakened by prevalence of polygamy, as the mpango wa kando can be practiced by the multiple sex partners, thus leading to infection."
Last month, Kenya's Parliament passed a bill that allowed for men to marry as many women as they see fit. Through the amending process legislators removed a provision allowing a wife to officially reject a man's choice for an additional spouse.
In some parts of Kenya, especially rural areas, polygamy is already presently practiced, having cultural roots that go back centuries.
Another Christian organization opposed to the new bill is the National Council of Churches Kenya, which released a press statement condemning the legislative endeavor.
"This Executive Committee is concerned that Parliament passed a faulty marriage bill into law … We urge His Excellency the President not ascent to the bill until the offensive clauses are removed," reads the statement in part.
"The debates in the National Assembly [were] extremely demeaning to the women of our country, and the bill itself does not respect the principle of equality of spouses in marriage especially with regard to polygamy."
In addition to various Christian organizations like the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops urging Kenyatta to not sign the bill, women's rights groups have also taken issue with the effort to legally recognize polygamy.
"Women activists say the bill is a throwback to old days, when gender equality meant little to Kenyan men and husbands. They also say polygamy destabilizes spousal relations, particularly when happens without consultations," reported Malkhadir Muhumed of Al Jazeera.