Recognise ‘come we stay’ marriages, say lobby groups

A network of civil society groups pushing for gender equality wants “come we stay” marriages recognised by law.

The groups want the marriages to be reinstated in the Marriage Bill 2013 that is before Parliament. Lawyer Judy Thongori yesterday said reinstatement of the provision that recognises couples living together as married should be forwarded to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

She was speaking during a media breakfast meeting organised by the Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.

The committee is reviewing the Bill before debate officially begins in the National Assembly. The initial bill contained a clause that legalised “come we stay” arrange- ments.

It provided that “Where it is proved that a man and woman having capacity to marry have lived together openly for at least two years in such circumstances as to have acquired the reputation of being husband and wife, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that they were duly married.”

The clause was deleted when the bill was referred to the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution. Thongori said the provision should be reinstated because it protects the family unit.

She said it is unfortunate that the public is misinformed on the contents of the bill hence their opposition.

Thongori said men stand to gain as Article 77 of the bill allows the courts to order a woman not to neglect her husband.


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