Kenya - The Marriage Act No. 4 of 2014 - Equality Now

Kenya - The Marriage Act No. 4 of 2014

Sections 2, 3 and 6 of Kenya’s Marriage Act No. 4 of 2014 allow a man to have more than one wife.

The Marriage Act No. 4 of 2014

  • Country: Kenya
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy & Wife Obedience

Sex discrimination in marital status laws renders women and girls subordinate in many aspects of family relations before, during and after marriage.

Women in polygamous marriages may face severe financial loss, including inheritance rights, and potentially fatal health problems such as HIV/AIDS due to their husband having multiple sexual partners.

Sections 2, 3 and 6 of Kenya’s Marriage Act No. 4 of 2014 allow a man to have more than one wife.

Section 2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—"polygamy" means the state or practice of a man having more than one wifesimultaneously.

Section 3. (1) Marriage is the voluntary union of a man and a woman whether in a monogamous or polygamous union and registered in accordance with this Act . . . (3) All marriages registered under this Act have the same legal status.

Section 6. (1) A marriage may be registered under this Act if it is celebrated . . . (c) in accordance with the customary rites relating to any of the communities in Kenya . . . (3) A marriage celebrated under customary law or Islamic law is presumed to be polygamous or potentially polygamous

Link to full law


Article 27(1) of the Constitution of Kenya: Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law... (3) Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres.

However, this right is limited by Article 24(3) of the Constitution of Kenya: The provisions of this Chapter on equality shall be qualified to the extent strictly necessary for the application of Muslim law before the Kadhis’ courts, to persons who profess the Muslim religion, in matters relating to personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance.

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