Mary and Salome - Polygamy in Kenya

Collection with 5 media items created by Loujain Rabbat

14 Sep 2013 08:00

Photos and Text by Celeste Hibbert.

A long hedge passes through Peter’s land, separating his wives’s houses. Mary and Salome share many things like cooking, taking care of the same kids, and being married to the same man.

It is estimated that 8 percent of Kenyan women are currently in polygamous marriages. The numbers, however, are decreasing due to the increasing expenses of providing for two women. Moreover, Kenya’s law does not recognize polygamous unions between Christians, and excludes the second spouse from the husband’s inheritance.

Kenya’s Marriage Bill 2013 is working on legitimizing polygamy under customary law to legally protect the women and ensure they are treated equally by their spouse.
Kenyan women of poor status view polygamy as practical and, to them, “Money and security will always take precedent over monogamous love.”

To Read Article: http://www.transterramedia.com/media/22118

Photo Collec... Photo Essay Polygamy East Africa Women Kenya Collection Christians Religion Marriage Family

Thumb sm
Mary & Salome: polygamy in Kenya (1 o...
Lamuru, Kenya
By Celeste Hibbert
14 Sep 2013

A long thin hedge marking Mary’s side and Salome’s side carefully divides their husband's land.

Thumb sm
Mary & Salome: polygamy in Kenya (2 ...
Lamuru, Kenya
By Celeste Hibbert
14 Sep 2013

Currently, according to Kenyan law, polygamy is not recognized between the union of Christians and the second wife is not entitled to inheritance. The new Bill is trying to equalize all partners and ensure polygamy is recognized under customary law, which would legally protect all wives and prevent a man from marrying two women without prior consent.

However, Peter says the new Bill would not affect his household. “It can be very precarious for a man to marry two women. A man has to control the amount of love he has equally between both women, or they can become jealous and bitter. That is why I share everything and they are happy,” he says.

As seen above, both women have their own house just meters away from each other.

Thumb sm
Mary & Salome: polygamy in Kenya (3 o...
Limuru, Kenya
By Celeste Hibbert
14 Sep 2013

Mary and Salome have lots in common. They share the same land, eat the same food, go to the same church and look after the same children. They are also married to the same man.

They all live on the same small farm in rural Kenya, growing maize, spinach, beans and avocados. A long thin hedge marking Mary’s side and Salome’s side carefully divides the land. Each wife has her own single-bedroom house, vegetable garden and cow for producing milk. Their husband, Peter, shares his time between the two women. However, as seen here, they all eat and cook together.

Thumb sm
Mary & Salome: polygamy in Kenya (4 o...
Lamuru, Kenya
By Celeste Hibbert
14 Sep 2013

The first picture taken of both wives together. Salome (left) married Peter who was already married to Mary (right). If I came from a wealthy family, I would have to be the first and only wife. I would want to be the only love of my husband,” says Salome.