Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Kenyan polygamy law violates that country's constitution

Polygamy is now legal in Kenya. Polyandry is not. I don't see how that distinction wouldn't violate Article 27 of the Kenyan Constitution (pdf).

Article 27 (1) states: "Every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law."
Article 27(2) states: "Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedoms."
Article 27(3) states: "Women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres."
Article 27(4) states: "The State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including... sex[.]"

 It seems pretty clear to me that permitting Kenyan men to marry as many woman as he wants, but restricting Kenyan woman to only one husband violates all four of those provisions. And yes, Kenyan law does have judicial review. Article 23(3)(d) of the Constitution permits the court to grant "appropriate relief" if it finds a violation of the Bill of Rights (which includes Article 27). Appropriate relief includes "a declaration of invalidity of any law that denies, violates, infringes, or threatens a right or fundamental freedom in the Bill of Rights[.]"

I'm no Kenyan lawyer (although, funny story, I once pretended to be a lawyer in Kenya), but it seems like a slam dunk to me.