Tuesday, 10 June 2008

KENYA: Survey Finds Secret Polygamy on the Rise, But Catholics Differ NAIROBI,

May 9, 2008 (CISA) -Formal and informal polygamy remains widespread in Kenya, according to a recent survey, but Catholic lay leaders said sacramental marriage was still intact in the mostly Christian nation.A quarter of the married men are either openly polygamous or have a secret “wife”, the survey by the country’s leading daily, Nation, found.In a face-to-face poll of 2,097 Kenyans who are 18 years and older in eight major towns, 72.4 percent of married respondents characterised their marriage as monogamous, while 20.8 percent said theirs were polygamous. Another 3.8 percent said theirs were informal “come-we-stay” arrangements.More than a third of the respondents approved of polygamy, with some 45.4 percent of the men supporting the practice than did women, at 32 percent.Of the married respondents, 27 percent said they were in a secret relationship with a person other than their spouse.It is common in Kenya for a woman or two (other than the known wife) to turn up to claim inheritance when a man, especially a wealthy one, dies.The national coordinating couple of the Catholic lay group Marriage Encounter, George and Salome Mwangi, said there was no cause for alarm that Christian marriage is in danger.Mr Mwangi, however, noted that there is some truth in the survey. He blamed the problem on moral decline. “Western culture has come with a lot of immorality which has encouraged promiscuity, particularly in the urban areas.”Francis Muroki, who writes on the family for the national Catholic monthly, The Seed, dismissed the findings of the survey. “That report is purely a hoax. It is not practical. People are too busy and don’t have time and energy to keep a secret “wife” or girlfriend.”Times have changed and men could no longer afford a second wife. “When you keep a mistress or concubine that is not marriage,” Muroki added.The Marriage Encounter coordinator for Ngong Diocese, Francis Ndolo, agreed that the survey findings were an exaggeration.Teresa Adhiambo, coordinator of Family Life Department in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, said that polygamy in the western region had dropped due to the spread of Christianity.Kevin Otieno, HIV/ADIS coordinator at the Kenya Catholic Secretariat said polygamy was on the rise mostly in urban areas where sometimes a man lives away from his wife. He also cited the spread of modernity which brings along with it denigration of religious values and immorality. “A Christian marriage should be between one man and one wife.”Retired Presbyterian cleric Timothy Njoya told Nation: “All polygamy is flawed masculinity where men think that women are less human and that one woman cannot be enough.”

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