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Flip The Script

Upward Task for The Kenyan Women

When the new Constitution of Kenya finally arrived, we toasted and danced! The time had come for the Kenyan woman to realize her own rights, and full potential and especially in the spousal setting that always lacked in this. More than three years down the line, it has never been so.

It is a shame to see Parliamentarians, majority of who are men, reviving the Marriage Property Bill to suit them. I do not mean to say that they do not have mothers- as it is obvious they were born by somebody- or sisters- or the wives that they want to stump on. They do. But their bellies will not allow them to, leave alone respect, recognize this!

Three months ago, the majority of out Parliamentarians, noted to amend our county's matrimonial bill.The bill was supposed to make the woman weak and even more vulnerable, so that in case of death of her husband or divorce, land and family property would be grabbed away from her by her relatives.Part of the law wanted the woman to inherit only what they owned 'together', Of course, customarily, land is registered in the name of the man. At marriage, the woman is supposed to move in and can be kicked out should the spouse deem this fit! The Kenyan, and many African women, are at risk also of losing property when the spouse brings in other wives and finds it too expensive to support all of them. The 'rusted' one is more likely to be kicked out.

It was a very sad day for Kenyans who voted the constitution, and the Parliamentarians making them top world earners, seeing how much they would like to see the woman down. Even now that there is much silence on this, we know their direction of thinking. They want, in time of divorce, each spouse to take away with them what they have brought! Traditionally, it is the work of the woman to take care of the home and the children- inclusive of all the chores. At this point, none of this is to be considered.

It is record breaking that women hold 19% of seats in Parliament now, but this is so because of the 47 positions of Women Representatives that was introduced for the first time. So still, the tyranny of numbers continue to hit Kenyans. One scaring fact is that there were 34 women in Parliament when the male fully backed this amendment and voted at 87 against 28 votes! This clearly shows that some women voted on the other side! I am not pointing a finger at them. It is this society that brought all of us up. I am only trying to tell the world how much we have been brainwashed, not even to believe in ourselves.

If Parliament is not comfortable with the 50-50 sharing plan, it means that violence against women will be here to stay, as majority of women will not be able to leave an abusive marriage and lose out on their property, as well as suffer alone empty-handed with the children. Sorting out the 'value' of a woman's contribution in a marriage, I would say- is a big joke! A woman's support for her family, physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually can never be quantified- I mean the value is far beyond measure. Anybody who thinks about this, let alone do it, would be a daylight robber.Wanting the woman to prove her contribution to her marital home in court, I would say, is further psychological torture.

Talk about taking away what you brought.The success, and pride, of an African marriage is traditionally deemed as children. It is the pride and happiness of both parties in the marriage to see that their children grow up into responsible adults. Every funeral you attend, be it man or woman, there will always be a mention of how many children he or she left behind. Nobody seems to address this issue- the women being the only carriers of the pregnancy. I am not oblivious of the fact, of course, where the man has contributed the sperm the woman equally contributes the egg. No. Far from that. I am talking about the woman carrying on the pregnancy from conception to delivery.. Sometimes the delivery comes with complications. some leaving lifetime damage to the woman. Is nobody seeing this? Why do we never hear somebody talk about it in Parliament? We should! These rogue guys should work it out and carry half of the pregnancies. Then children-wise, they will also be able to leave with what they brought.

I remember male Parliamentarians asking why they they should have the burden of paying dowry and again splitting the property into half. In this case, I would suggest. their top agenda be to do away with dowry-paying as this has also been a contributing factor, in many cases, for the man to feel that he has bought and owns the woman. One Parliamentarian further said that he could not understand how a woman would come and hang around in his home, then one day if she decides to leave, then takes off with half of the property!

This confidence from our brothers is another statistic. That they own most of the property. Not because they have worked for more, but because of insisting on culture and laws that will always crash the efforts of the woman to raise her head above the sand.

As it stands now- the paper gives more than is put on the table. Can we all work towards a world of equality, where gender or sex will not be the determining factor of where one belongs in society. For drastic change to occur- drastic measures should be taken. Kenyans are a hard working people, and their women, as such, deserve better.

Comments

Greengirl's picture

Keep Inspiring!!

Thank you for sharing such an illuminating post. It is sad that of all the pressing challenges that needs to be debated in the interest of the masses, Kenyan parliamentarians are channeling their wits and energies towards dis-empowering women. They obviously don't have any respect for the recommendations of the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

I think they need to get copies of the CEDAW document with your piece serving as a cover letter. It would also make a world of difference if the United Nations Women's looks into the state of women's affairs in the Kenyan parliament.

Thank you for sharing. Keep inspiring!!

Greengirl

Auma's picture

Thank you, Greengirl!

Our many united voices will create this very much needed change! We are ears out and will not relent!

'Asante sana!'

Best,
Leah.

Dear Auma,

I am impressed by the clear and articulate description of the actions of the Parlimentarians, giving us the recent history of response to the Kenyan Constitution, and how hard it is to get women's rights to be recognized. Bless you for speaking up. You are a fighter. I send my wishes for success in this struggle. And I thank you for informing your sisters. We are finding ways to stand together.

In circle,
Lauren
www.CirclesWork.net

Auma's picture

Thank you, Lauren!

Thank you Lauren for reading, and for your very inspiring support! Women's rights will never be easily recognized for the 'tyranny of numbers.' We have little representation so this has always been the channel to bring us down. 'Tyranny of numbers!' Once we stand together, we shall sail through. Right now our masts have to be raised high to brave the very strong winds!

Thank you!

Best,
Leah.

Tam's picture

Strength in Knowledge

Dear Leah,

Your powerful words give us knowledge globally that is needed to continue to work toward all aspects of freedom and dignity for women everywhere. You have given us important information, outlining so clearly these unfair and cruel laws put in place by your parliament, that prevent women in Kenya from having paths to respect and freedom. I am so encouraged by the strength of your words, insisting on a just and deep level of respect for women. Knowing what you are working to change there, at this moment, strengthens our connection globally, and inspires courage in continuing to voice every detail, and to celebrate working together.

With love in Sisterhood,

Tam

Auma's picture

'Asante sana', Tam-

Thank you my sister for the encouragement. With all our voices together we have to climb the upward ladder! Our global connection inspires us everyday as we know we are guarded at every corner...

With love from Kenya,
Leah.

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