Still a long way for society to accept polyandry

Wednesday, October 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Still a long way for society to accept polyandry.

Manuel Ntoyai @manuel_ntoyai 

Marriages have been under the spotlight for ages, with one of its rules of engagement solely based on submission by one party.

Mostly this long standing covenant is subject to different norms acceptable to some but considered taboo by others.

One of this is polyandry: the act of a woman having more than one husband. It is considered immoral by a vast majority. 

Despite timid efforts by some quarters to give it some legal attention, it remains a topic spoken in hushed tones and practised in secret. 

“Kenya is not ready for the conversation. Polygamy, where a man was finally legally allowed to marry more than one wife, was only legalised in 2014 even though it was practised without this law,” says sociologist Fiona Atieno. 

She says women are still seen as belonging to men— their fathers then their husbands.

She says it is not ‘normal’ for a woman to be perceived as being anything that would warrant two men. 

“Again, under the Marriage Law 2014, polyandry is considered bigamy and illegal by exemption of it not being stated as a legal practice as other mentioned types of marriages.

Given that women do not occupy power in Kenya, and until women can be seen as equals, polyandry will remain illegal although there are people who quietly engage in the practice,” she adds. 

Her words are echoed by Laurriette Rota, a psychiatrist, who opines that the only thing that stops polyandry in many countries is the law and cultural or religious expectations. 

“Women, mostly from urban settlements or towns or even in the villages, in most cases have several sexual partners.

Men never get to know about these kinds of arrangements as each of them serves a different purpose in the woman’s life.

For fear of losing both men, a woman cannot propose that the two or more men she is with meet and get to know each other and even get to agree to get married to her,” she explains. 

The common belief that a woman is not wired to love more than one man as they tend to invest all emotions and entire wellbeing on one person once they are in love, does not help their case either. 

“I would happily do it, only that it’s illegal. I wouldn’t mind a husband and a boyfriend or having two boyfriends as I’d have different households for either of the men.

They all play different roles, but the common denominator being providence in terms of financial, emotional and physical,” intimates Patricia Kemboi, a Nairobi resident. 

Controversial media personality Annita Ray advocates for polyandry claiming it is a matter of equallity because since men keep their options (sidechicks and second wives or more), but women are rebuked and thinks it is time they are allowed to have equal rights just like their men when it comes to matters coitus. 

“Polyandry is amazing given that women shouldn’t be tied to one man. I think women should be allowed to keep as many men as they could, as long as she satisfies all their needs, why not?

Isn’t that the same basis men use to advocate for polygamy?” she posits.

However much the crusade continues to cause a buzz, should polyandry be legalised, it will definitely be a while before it can be accepted.

“We are not ready for a society of empowered women who can ‘keep’ two men as she is the sole provider of the house, where women control men.

Some women believe that empowerment involves doing what men can do an even better and this includes the number of partners you can have,” states Laurriette. 

Men’s ego

Laurriette observes being in such a relationship makes people lose respect for the men involved and this generally affects their ego.

It emasculates them completely as the society believes such an arrangement is for highly inadequate men or that the woman must be unable to find satisfaction from a single man.

Kenya considers itself a Christian state and this also affects how polyandry, is perceived.

The clergy have always advocated for one man one wife, and cases of adultery being highly discouraged.

For polyandry to be adopted, there has to be more change in society than we are currently able to accommodate, but with time. Definitely it’s something that may become a norm.

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