Strange Marriages Allowed Under the Kenyan Customary Law

Same sex marriages are not permitted in Kenya, however, in the Kenyan Customary Law a woman can marry her fellow woman. compiled a list of strange marriage unions recorded under the Customary Law.

Woman to woman marriages

Woman to woman marriages arise in a case where a woman is barren and she marries another woman for the purpose of having children of her own.

The barren woman is considered the husband in the union and any children born by the other woman become hers.

The fertile woman may sire children with the husband of the barren woman if he is present or any other man of her choice.

This practice is common among the Kisii, Taita and Kuria tribes.

 Forcible Marriages

Forcible marriages arise in a family of only daughters whereby the last daughter is not allowed to get married.

The last born stays home where she is required to beget children especially male children with a man of her choice and her children belong to her father's family.  

The Nandis and Kipsigis are known to practice this.

Leviratic marriages 

Leviratic marriages arise where a husband dies and his brother or any relative marries his wife. 

Any children born of the new union are regarded as children of the deceased.

This is common among the Meru, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kuria, Kisii and Nandi tribes.

Sororate unions

Sororate unions occur whereby a widowed man marries his wife's younger sister as his late wife's replacement. This also happens if a family is unable to return bride price to the man's family and the young woman is offered as compensation.

Another case is whereby a woman who is barren allows her younger sister to get married to her husband for the purpose of bearing him children.

This custom is common among the Luo community.

Widow Inheritance

Widow inheritance arises where the husband predeceases the wife and she gets married to one of the husband’s brothers.

This is different from Leviratic marriages in the sense that any children sired in the new union are regarded as children of the living brother and not of the deceased.  

The Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin and Masai tribes practice this.

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