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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Polyandry and Prejudice in Kenya

I'm not sure why this has become such big news. Two men love the same woman. They want a polyandrous marriage. What's the big deal? From npr.org...
Polygamy is fairly common in Kenya but one forthcoming marriage is turning that custom on its head. A Kenyan woman not wanting to choose between the two men she loves, decided she will marry both of them. The men have agreed, and the trio even signed a contract to "set boundaries and keep the peace."

This happens every day all over the world.

From bbc.co.uk...
The agreement sets out a rota for Sylvester Mwendwa and Elijah Kimani to stay in her house and states they will both help raise any children she bears.

Mr Mwendwa told the BBC he loved the woman and said the contract would "set boundaries" and "keep the peace".

Lawyers said the "marriage" would only be recognised if they could prove polyandry - a woman having more than one husband - was part of their custom.
How about simply recognizing that adults should be free to marry each other?


Mr Mwendwa said her parents had given their blessing, while he is planning to pay the bride price.

The woman, a widow with two children, did not want to be named.

Mr Mwendwa told the BBC he did not marry the woman simply to satisfy his sexual desires but because he loved her and, most of all, her children.
The scrutiny has not been without cost. From standardmedia.co.ke comes this report from Willis Oketch..
A woman who was alleged to have been married to two men in Mombasa now wants to sue for damages over claims that her name has been tarnished.
And...
But one of the lovers, a 26 year-old man Mr Sylvester Mwenda who signed the agreement is believed to have been shown the door over unexplained circumstances.

Mr Mwenda admitted he was in love with the woman, he believes she was the only woman he loves and was ready to do anything to please her.

He explained that his love for the woman was so deep and was ready to do anything, including sharing her with another man.

How many other relationships are like this? Why is this news? What should be news is someone getting fired from their job for having a consensual adult relationship. From ntv.co.ke...

A man involved in a polyandrous relationship in Mombasa is now seeking help after losing his job and attracting condemnation from society. Sylvester Mwendwa is now seeking help from mens rights organisation, Maendeleo Ya Wanaume after his confession set him on a collision course with close friends and family. Brenda Wanga reports that despite the hue and cry that has come in the wake of that confession, Mwendwa says he would do it again. 
And finally, there's Safa Jinje's piece in theglobeandmail.com...

Polyandry – the practice of a woman having more than one mating partner at a time – is not as prevalent as polygyny, which is recognized in various patriarchal societies. Traditionally, polyandry has been found in egalitarian societies where fertile women are scarce, the result of a slanted ratio between men and women; or in societies where high male mortality or absenteeism rates create a higher demand for fathers.
 Why shouldn't a woman be free to marry two men, if all agree? There's no good reason.
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