Reasons That Drive Women into Polygynous Unions in Ugenya Sub-County, Kenya

Lucy Achieng’ Yuya, Kibet Ng’etich, Beatrice Onsarigo


Polygyny is a popular form of marriage practiced in the rural Nyanza region of Kenya despite changes in culture, traditions, availability of critical resources such as land, the cost of living, education, and level of women’s empowerment. The objective of this study was to establish the forces that drive women to join such unions. The study was guided by the Systems Theory. The descriptive research design was employed where a sample of 60 participants was drawn from polygynous women using the snowball sampling technique. Data was collected using interview schedules and analyzed using both descriptive statistics and the thematic content analysis technique. Findings reveal that most of women in polygynous unions in Ugenya Sub-County were married as first wives and were not aware that their husband had intention to marry other wives in the future. Others were compelled by cultural factors such as wife inheritance and societal pressure to get married to polygynous men. The study recommends a review of the Marriage Act to make it mandatory for men to involve current wives in decision to marry another wife. Interventions aimed at eliminating negative cultural practices such as wife inheritance are also necessary.

Keywords: Polygyny, wife inheritance, Ugenya Sub-County, Kenya, culture, marriage, women

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/11-2-10

Publication date: January 31st 2021

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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