In Summary
  • The embattled woman in the marriage, 43-year-old Josephine Ndulu Munyao, entered into a woman-to-woman union with the elderly Angela Nyamai Munyao in 2005.
  • Fida’s chairperson Josephine Mong’are said the organisation will try all means, including enlisting the help of the Kamba Council of Elders, to solve the dispute that tests the age-old iweto Kamba tradition.
  • Efforts by elders of the Amuumoni Mbaa Kiimi Clan to intervene in the case after the magistrate’s judgement of October 29, 2018 have failed, and Josephine risks eviction from the place where she lives.

The Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) Kenya has promised to intervene in the case of a woman in Machakos County who has been disinherited by a fellow woman she “married” 14 years ago.

Fida’s chairperson Josephine Mong’are said on Saturday that the organisation will try all means, including enlisting the help of the Kamba Council of Elders, to solve the dispute that tests the age-old iweto, a Kamba tradition where a woman “marries” a younger one to bear children for her.

“We can offer mediation. It may be a unique opportunity to understand how it (the marriage) works,” Mrs Mong’are told the Sunday Nation.

WHAT HAPPENED

The embattled woman in the marriage, 43-year-old Josephine Ndulu Munyao, entered into a woman-to-woman union with the elderly Angela Nyamai Munyao in 2005.

Angela took Josephine in because she had only one child, a daughter, and Kamba traditions allow her to “marry” a woman to bear sons. Without sons, Kamba customs consider a family’s lineage at risk of discontinuation.

Angela and Josephine would later fall apart, leading to a divorce case filed at the Machakos Law Courts in 2016, where Angela wanted an end to their union and to retain custody of Josephine’s five children.

But the presiding magistrate, Yusuf Shikanda, could not give any orders on the matter, observing that it is a same-sex marriage that is not recognised by any Kenyan law.

“It is inconsistent with the institution of marriage as envisaged by the Marriage Act as well as Article 45 of the Constitution. I do not mean to say that such a union is unconstitutional. The formation of such marriage is purely under Kamba custom.

EVICTION

Efforts by elders of the Amuumoni Mbaa Kiimi Clan to intervene in the case after the magistrate’s judgement of October 29, 2018 have failed, and Josephine risks eviction from the place where she lives.

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