A Mombasa-based businessman was slapped with a Sh10 million fine for luring a woman into a sexless marriage. The marriage carried on for 18 years.
Patel and Sonia were married in 1995 at the Arya Samaj, Vithalbhai Patel Road, Kakad Wadi, Bombay, India according to Indian marriage customs.
Justice Maureen Odero in December last year directed Patel to either pay Sonia a lump sum of Sh10 million, or Sh4.25 million in instalments within 60 days.
Justice Odero described the monthly sum of Sh4, 000 that Patel offered Sonia as a pittance, given that the minimum wage in the country currently is now Sh7, 000.
Odero noted that Sonia was lured into the marriage on false pretense, and was brought into a foreign country only to be turned into a house help.
“I find that this act of deception by the man was cruel in the extreme. It condemned the innocent woman to a life devoid of sexual intimacy and children which is the desire of any woman in a marriage,” Odero ruled.
The court heard that the couple met and got married in India in March 1995. After their marriage, the couple came back to Mombasa where they cohabited as man and wife for 18 years.
They lived in the family home in Nyali, which at first was a rented abode, before the year 1998 when Patel’s father purchased the spacious four-bedroom apartment they currently live in.
Sonia told the court she was from a family of humble means and was raised by a single mother. She said she had told her husband during courtship and his family that her family could not afford a lavish wedding. Nor could they afford to pay a dowry as Hindu custom dictates.
By all accounts their marriage was peaceful despite the fact that due to Patel’s impotence the couple never engaged in sexual relations at all in their 18-year marriage. As a result they bore no child. They tried fertility treatments in India and the United Kingdom which never worked.
Sonia told the court in her evidence that because divorce was a taboo in the Hindu community she opted to persevere in the union.
However, after both Patel’s parents died in 2006, Patel turned cruel, belligerent and uncaring. She said he even tried making her return to India. In 2009, he finally filed for divorce.
Patel on his part claimed his wife told people that he was impotent and was unable to perform sexually, which embarrassed him. Sonia countered, saying Patel should have informed her of his impotence before the marriage.
In awarding the Sh10 million fine, the judge said the court made a finding that she had no employment or indeed any definite means of support at the moment and directed Patel to meet the costs of the suit.