Our loss! Musings of a Kenyan woman
Due to some technical problems I have not been able to watch Kenya news for a while now. Sometimes this is a good thing, some detox from news. But, I want to know what is happening in my homeland Kenya. I saw a friend post on facebook about matrimonial property, the 50/50 sharing of matrimonial property etc. I was not sure I wanted to find out what was happening but when a non-Kenyan colleague forwarded a BBC News update I knew ignoring is not making it go away. So here I am reading online comments from some of the members of parliament and wondering if it was worth it waking up early and traversing different counties talking about ‘Gains of the proposed constitution’ back in 2010.
I recal why I was very keen on the constitution, because I had seen some gains for women and girls in Kenya and wanted to protect that. One of the clauses I liked is 45(3) “Parties to a marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of the marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage” among many others. However, day by day I see more efforts to reduce these gains if not removing them. The current members of the legislative body have a very unique role of ensuring that the provisions in the CoK 2010 have been put into laws. Most recent debate saw the proposal to deleting provisions in the Matrimonial Property Bill which wanted spouses to share property equally in case of separation r divorce.
Reading article in the Capital FM online News left me wondering if some of these persons are really living in this world!
>>>“Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Hon Samuel Chepkonga said most of male MPs loved their daughters, and whatever gifts they give the daughters on their wedding day should not be included under matrimonial property”
Hon Chepkonga sir, were you debating for your daughter or against your wife? For your wife is also someone’s daughter, you know! On the other hand, not many daughters’ of women are as lucky as your daughter, some of us need to feed our parents not get property from them at marriage. On the other hand, would you have minded sharing in your wife’s property? Does it mean the sons should also keep their pre-matrimonial property to themselves? So both start at square zero?
>>>>“MPs John Mbadi (Suba) and Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) opposed the amendment saying “it does not protect their daughters’ welfare in a marriage. “If it were the case of my wife it would be very easy to deal with because I always register property with my wife… I’m protecting my sisters, my daughters, whom I don’t know how her husband will behave”
I am wondering really, aren’t these people hiding behind ‘daughter’ where they mean they don’t want their wives to have equality in marriage??
Hon Gumbo on the other hand claimed that the laws are to protect women and men since some men sit back and not work and hence wait to share in the woman’s property. At the face value it seems he has a very good point, but let us define what is working. I do not know of any women who does not work, maybe there are women who do not work and sit around waiting for husbands to provide. I can give it 1% as guess work. The large percentage of women work, no toil hard! But guess what, they have not a single penny paid to them for the work. They wake up at 5.00 am, prepare breakfast, fetch water, prepare children for school wash clothes, go to the garden, prepare meals for family fetch fire world and many much more. This is the unpaid labour that more women than men are engaged in. This Kenyan woman will not have any property in her name at the end of the day. Her contribution will remain unseen since nobody measures how water is worth, and healthy children in ‘matrimonial property’. The man will pursue his career and accumulate property since there is someone somewhere who is in the house looking after the citizens of this country. Then what do we call her “housewife”.
Some Kenyan women do work more for a pay...but hold on; how many men have failed in getting a promotion since they could not go to work since the domestic worker took off without notice? Or who cannot go for important conference since they are pregnant and nursing? Guess how far the man will go and accumulate more property in the process.
However, my agitation is not personal, I am in the second category, possible can also get my ‘personal property’ that does not go into matrimonial property; but guess who loses?? My sister in the village whose contribution remains unseen, unaccounted for. Her work is not considered ‘work’ in fact even if you ask her she will say “I do not work”
>>>One Hon Lomenen wondered: “Before you marry, you pay a lot of dowry… so many cows, and after you pay all that, do you again share the remaining property?”
There you go; the thorny bride price question that is very jealously guarded by patriarchy to ensure dominance. Gone is the idea of ‘appreciate’ but to paying for a human being and guarantee some privileges over her. Either way, we lose!!!!