Family Law Reforms in Kenya: A Feminist Critique

Authors Yohana Gadaffi, Nancy Baraza

ISSN: 2521-2613
Affiliations: None; Senior Lecturer, Department of Public Law, University of Nairobi, School of Law
Source: Africa Nazarene University Law Journal, 2014, Issue 2, p. 126 – 147


Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of reforms to the family law regime in Kenya. This began with the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, which set in motion the process of amending a number of laws so as to ensure their conformity to the new constitutional dispensation. The article focuses on the constitutional provisions as well as the new laws which have been enacted to govern the private sphere (family) in Kenya. In addition to the Constitution, the article focuses on the Matrimonial Property Act of 2013, the Marriage Act of 2014 and the Protection from Domestic Violence Bill of 2013. It discusses these items of legislation through a feminist critique. It specifically utilises radical feminism and narrows down to the male dominance theory advanced by Catharine Mackinnon in an effort to highlight how the laws have previously been discriminative against women. The article equally highlights how the new laws as well as the constitutional provisions will go a long way in correcting the power imbalances between men and women in the private sphere. In doing so, it weaves together various decisions of the courts to illustrate how the judicial institutions are already applying these new laws. Ultimately, the article concludes that the enactment of these laws is a step in the right direction, one which was long overdue but which will go a long way in dealing with male dominance.