Lamu couples to undergo vetting before marriage

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Wedding bands. Fewer people divorced and married this year compared to last year./COURTESY

Lamu, KENYA: Lamu couples living in Pate Island will now have to be vetted before getting married.

Residents of Pate Island in Lamu East have devised a new technique meant to curb early marriages, unwanted pregnancies and also lower divorce rates in the area.

According to the Pate Council of Elders, all those intent on getting married will have to undergo mandatory vetting by a selected committee appointed by the elders.

The marriage vetting committee comprises of elders who have been married for over 30 years and such as believed to have enough experience to be able to tell if one is indeed ready for marriage or just infatuated by their partner.

Speaking in Pate on Sunday, Pate island senior elder Ahmed Abii said those seeking to get married must also present a valid national ID card to the committee of elders so as to avert early marriages.

Abii says no one without an ID card will be allowed to marry or get married even if they are over the age of 18.

“The issue with the ID card is to first of all stop people from getting married young and to also curb pedophiles especially the men who prey on young girls for marriage. It will also enable people know that marriage is only for the mature minded and treat it with utmost respect so that upon getting in, chances of you divorcing are almost nil,” said Abii.

The elder said Pate was having a hard time containing increased divorces most of which are comprised of young couples who seem not to have a valid reason for seeking the divorce in the first place.

He said children born of such marriages are the ones bearing the most brunt as they are left suffering as parents wrangle and eventually divorce.

“In this Island you are allowed to give your wife three divorces but that should be when there is absolutely a compelling reason why you cant just resolve and move on. Nowadays these young people get married today and after a few months one has already handed their wives the first divorce and before you know it in less than a year or two that marriage is over and they move on to marry the next person, that’s not what marriage should be, its not a trade,” added Abii.

The elders say ever since the marriage vetting committee came into being, many have started approaching marriage with the cautiousness it deserves.

“People now know that they are in their marriages to stay. They also know that divorce is not the solution whenever you wrangle. Our aim as a committee of elders is to impart the experience we have as married people to the younger generations who seem to think marriage is a game. We are going to change Pate by fire by force. We are teaching these young people on the need to stay clear of illicit sex so you have no need for abortions and many more,” said elder Khalid Sharif.

The elders warned that they shall not deal kindly with parents who are notorious for secretly marrying off underage girls for dowry money.

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