The Kenyan Government has proposed a law that would ban mandatory bride-price payments, recognize co-habiting couples, and legalize polygamy. The Marriage Bill 2012 was approved by the cabinet but must also pass parliament before becoming national law.
Marriage Bill 2012 will eliminate the current customary law that dictates a marriage is not legal until a bride-price has been paid. This custom is practiced by more than 40 different ethnic groups in Kenya. The bill does not outlaw the practice, however, so families wishing to pay a bride-price would be allowed to do so.
The proposed marriage reform law would also recognize a couple that has been living together for six-months, so called "come-we-stay" relationships, as legally married. This provision of the proposed law aims to recognize these relationships in part to protect any children born to such couples that then separate, leaving one person alone to raise a child or children.
Marriage Bill 2012 would also legalize polygamy in respect to different cultures within Kenya where polygamous marriages are considered the norm. According to Africa Review, the cabinet issued a statement that the proposal seeks to bring together Christian, Hindu, Islamic, civil and traditional laws and provide protections for all different types of marriages in the country.
Other reforms included in the proposed law would protect widows from wife inheritance, raise the minimum age for marriage to 18, and give men and women equal status within all marriages. The bill does not recognize same-sex couples and defined marriage as the "voluntary union of a man and a woman intended to last for their lifetime."
According to the BBC, the vast majority of members of parliament are men and are likely to oppose sections of the bill on the basis of cultural and traditional values.
Media Resources: Africa Review 11/9/12; BBC News 11/9/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .