The Kenyan cabinet has approved a sweeping overhaul of the country's marriage laws in an effort to provide legal protections for all forms of matrimony and to increase the financial security of women and children.
Among other measures, the marriage bill will outlaw 'bride-price' payments, legalize the practice of polygamy and classify couples living together for at least six months as being “legally married.”
Gay marriage will not be allowed under the new laws.
However, the bill is subject to final approval by the parliament, which is overwhelmingly dominated by male MPs who will likely quarrel with several parts of the new laws.
BBC reported that eliminating the ancient custom of 'bride-price' (which are usually made in the form of cows and currency) could face stiff opposition.
'Bride price' payments are traditionally accepted across all of Kenya's various ethnic groups. In many towns and villages, a marriage is not sanctioned until the bride has been paid.
With regards to polygamy, the cabinet calls for equal status among men and with respect to inheritance and property rights.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.