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Rude shock for Kenyan men facing strong US family law

Posted by Administrator on February 10, 2012

Photo | FILE | NATION Kenyan men, however, feel that some women often misuse the protections offered to them by these laws. Some feel that women use these laws to harass them as well as settle old or new scores.

Photo | FILE | NATION Kenyan men, however, feel that some women often misuse the protections offered to them by these laws. Some feel that women use these laws to harass them as well as settle old or new scores.

By ANTONY KARANJA in Dallas, Texas

This is the story of Kibet, a Kenyan living in Massachusetts in the United States, but also the story of many a male compatriot.

Married for 11 years, he accuses wife, Judy, of throwing him out of their matrimonial home after she started dating someone else.

Kibet says it all began as a row over the remittance of money to his family back home, which his wife was opposed to.

She accused him of being more supportive of his family back home than his wife and their two children, an accusation which Kibet denies.

One day during an argument, she hit him and Kibet grabbed her hands to protect himself. His wife started screaming and when he released her, she called the police. When the police arrived at their home, his wife insisted that she feared for her life as he had tried to kill her, though Kibet maintained he was merely trying to protect himself.

The police advised Kibet to move from the home for a while until they sorted themselves out. He then moved in with his brother.

Judy then filed for divorce in April last year, claiming that she could not continue living in an “abusive marriage.” Kibet denied the abuse accusation and maintained that at no time had he assaulted her and that the incident in question was a case of self-defence.

Kibet was then slapped with child support for his two children as well as alimony, which is supposed to restore his former wife to the financial position she enjoyed during their marriage.

That was not all: His wife was also awarded their matrimonial home.

Kenyan families that immigrate to the United States are usually quickly confronted with the task of reconciling their Kenyan traditions and the US culture.

Kenyan women quickly discover that the US takes violation of women’s rights very seriously, a situation that they quickly embrace. The woman also realises that she has an upper hand in matters involving custody of children after divorce, and rarely is a child taken away from its mother.

According to lawfirms.com, 70 per cent of custody cases in US are awarded to women, 10 per cent are awarded to men and 20 per cent are shared custodies.

Immigrant children also become increasingly aware of their freedoms as they integrate into the American school system.

As they interact with other children and teachers, they learn that they are protected from their parents against what is considered child abuse.

Although article 53 of the Kenyan Constitution provides for protection against child abuse, enforcement of the same is inadequate, especially in rural areas.

Cultural norms may be seen as culprits as it may be difficult for a child to report abuse cases by their parents.

Immigrant parents in the US find out that they can no longer punish their children by slapping or even whipping as they used to do in Kenya.

These forms of punishment can easily be lumped into a form of child abuse. Children are known to report the cases to their school teachers as well as to the local police.

School teachers are trained to look out for signs of child abuse and once a case is detected, they are required to report to school authorities, who may in turn contact the local authorities.

This could lead to serving jail time as well as losing custody of your children to the state authorities.

Out of the 24 Kenyan women interviewed for this story, 21 of them felt that there was some bias in the American law towards women, but that it is necessary to protect them from men, while four felt that there was unnecessary bias.

All 26 Kenyan men across the US interviewed felt that the law is biased towards women and that men often get a raw deal.

Most men pointed to state laws that require a man to continue paying child support for a child even if he discovers later that he is not the biological father.

According to a 2006 study published by Current Anthropology, two per cent of married men who had every confidence that the child they were bringing up was theirs ended up not being biological parents after paternity tests were conducted.

Statistics published in 2007 by Rense.com showed that 1.6 million men pay child support for children that are not theirs.

In many states, courts have ruled that no matter what the DNA results show, the man cannot abandon the child unless he can prove that he was tricked into the role by proving fraud and that he must have stopped acting as the child’s father as soon as he learnt the truth.

Kenyan men, however, feel that some women often misuse the protections offered to them by these laws. Some feel that women use these laws to harass them as well as settle old or new scores.

Back to Kibet. At the time of their divorce, alimony had no expiry date in the state of Massachusetts and Kibet would have to continue paying even if Judy moved in with her new partner.

However, he may soon have some relief.

A Bill signed into law in September last year by Governor Deval Patrick set new limits on alimony, curbing Massachusetts’ lifetime alimony payments. This allows those making alimony payments to stop once they retire or once a former spouse moves in with a new partner.

Since the court deemed Kibet and Judy to have a “toxic” relationship, Kibet can only see his children under supervised visitation where Judy’s brother watches close by.

Supervised visitation ensures that the physical and emotional well being of children is guaranteed when the parents are in bitter divorces.

Kibet is seriously considering moving back to Kenya, severing the alimony payments that his former wife enjoys. He, however, worries about permanent separation from his 10-year-old twins.

According to Judy, however, their marriage started getting abusive in 2005. She says she suffered emotionally as Kibet often disregarded her in matters concerning family finances. “He wanted everything his way,” Judy says. “It was either his way or the highway.”

Judy insisted that she did not have a problem with him sending money back home, but she resented the fact that she would always have to beg for certain basic needs to be met at home.

Send money home

“I have never seen a man slash his wife’s grocery list, marking some items as unnecessary while he affords to send money home,” she lamented. “I just felt neglected and not important enough.”

Judy, however, stands by her claim that Kibet abused her and used words that intimidated her.

“Trust me when I tell you he humiliated me in front of the children as if I was a nanny,” she continued. “I had been in that marriage for 10 years too long.”

Nyaga came to the Texas in 2004 leaving Maureen, his long-time girlfriend back in Kenya. He was, however, determined to bring her over so that they could start a life together.

He worked hard and sent her money for a passport, visa processing fees and an air ticket to join him.

Nyaga was ecstatic when Maureen joined him in 2006. He immediately enrolled her in a college where she pursued a nursing course. Maureen graduated in 2010 and invited a large contingent of friends, but she did not invite Nyaga.

Nyaga did not even know she was graduating and only found out from a friend who was at the ceremony.
His friend sent him three photos of his girlfriend in her graduation attire posing with those who had accompanied her to the ceremony.

He was speechless. He had worked so hard to see her through, and he still hoped it was just a prank.
It wasn’t.

Nyaga waited for her to come back home and furiously demanded to know what was going on and why she would mark such a milestone without even letting him know.

Her answer marked a stark contrast to the woman he knew and loved.

“I do not go out with uneducated people,” she said. “You came here before me and you have never graduated and that shows that your priorities are messed up.”

With that, she packed a small bag and stormed out of the apartment.

She did not return home that night.

Unknown to Nyaga, she was already seeing someone else and had already got her own apartment.

She came back the following day and carried away most of her belongings while Nyaga was at work.
Nyaga eventually traced her to her new apartment but she never answered her door for almost a week.

She then went a step farther by taking him to court, claiming that since they had lived together for more than six months, they were statutorily married and she was entitled to half his property.

Since they had lived together for close to four years and they had always presented themselves as a married couple, the judge ordered that the property Nyaga acquired during that period be divided equally among them.
Nyaga was upset by the ruling and decided confront her at her apartment.

When the police arrived, she said she felt threatened by his frequent appearances at her door and that she did not feel safe outside of her apartment. The police arrested him and charged him with stalking.

After two nights in jail, the police handed him over to immigration officials who deported him three months later.

Maureen, on learning his fate, was sympathetic to his plight but she maintains that Nyaga made her feel threatened by stalking her.

She said that though she is grateful to Nyaga for helping her out with her school fees, she felt that he was very possessive and always had lofty expectation for her that put so much pressure on her.

“I was going to take a loan and pay him back all of his money,” Maureen said lowering her voice. “I did not think that it was worth staying with him just because he paid for my studies and honestly it did not have to end like it did.”

Asked why she went for half his property, she said it was done in a moment of high emotions and she did not intend to follow through with the court’s decision.

In a tragic incident in October 2010, Justus Kebabe, a Kenyan immigrant, snapped and took the lives of his wife, Bilha Omare and their two children: son Kinley Ogendi and daughter Ivyn Ogendi, in Minnesota.

During subsequent investigations, it was revealed that Kebabe was abusing Ms Omare while the couple lived in Kenya.

When they got to the US, the abuse continued and at one time the police were called in.

Kebabe was convicted of the crime and sentenced to supervised probation.

After the incident, Kebabe was bitter with Omare, who he blamed for his unemployment woes saying that if she had not reported him, he would have been holding a job.

In the US, if a pre-employment background check on an applicant reveals prior convictions of any nature, it is difficult to find employment even after rehabilitation.

An already violent relationship boiled over with Kebabe’s fears his wife would abandon the marriage once she graduated, as well as his suspicions she was cheating on him.

A family friend claims he was jealous of his wife who was working and was planning to graduate in two months’ from a nursing programme.

At the time of the fateful incident, a supervisor working with a domestic and sexual abuse shelter in Minnesota said that domestic violence can become heightened among immigrant families who are dealing with power struggles between male and female roles.

Betty Balan had noted that many women tend to gain more independence after moving to the US. They discover they can work outside the home and may pursue an education.

The men “feel like they’re losing control of who they are, and their families,” she said. “It’s threatening when someone has more control and more power.”

As some Kenyan men continue to frown at the “biased” laws, women in the interview pool counter by saying that only men who are abusive find these laws biased.

“Kenyan men should understand that the days of oppressing women are over and they should shape up.”

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Betrayed+in+America+/-/1056/1324434/-/86kn61/-/index.html


19 Responses to “Rude shock for Kenyan men facing strong US family law”

  1. JEFF said

    This is a good entry that we all,men and women, need to look at closely to see what positive tidbits we can pick up. Good looking bro.Karanja.

  2. Nairobian said

    Wow! Its not a “mans” world any more guys… Kenyan women are definately taking full advantage of these laws. Unfortunately, their kids end up paying the price. God help us all!!!

    • Marie said

      ha ha ha…men get used to a world that is equal to all and stop using children to control and abuse women..what do kids have to do when the law comes in aid of women..we are not in Africa if you want the policemen to send your sobbing wife from police station,, when trying to record a statement after a beating, back home to to the same beast who asulted her to solve it ki nyumbani ..THEN GO BACK TO THE DAMM AFRICA ..

  3. ITHAVETHI. said

    Kama kweli mwanaume yeyote aishie hapa Marekani s’o kiumbe kitakachoangamizwa mwisho mwisho wa karne hii, basi sijui niseme lipi lingine. Sheria za hapa Marekani, kwa sababu moja ama nyingine, zilisajiliwa kumlinda yule mama, yule mtoto, na yule mbwa, paka, kasuku nk waishio mle nyumbani. Sababu za kumtenga mwanaume, naelewa pengine ni kwa nini: historia.

    Kwa wakati huu ambapo uchumi na hali ya kimaisha umesambaratika, ni wanaume wengi ambao wanajaribu juu chini pasiwe na kutoelewana na wakeo kwani pale taraka ifikiwapo, mwanaume anafunga virago na kwenda kupanga nyumba mahali pengine, huku akiendelea kuilipa nyumba ile, kuwakimu watoto wale wale, na kulipa ada ya kumkimu mke aliyekuwa wake na ambaye keshapata mchumba.

    Wachache ya Wakenya wanawake wenzetu wamepotokwa na kuingilia hali ya kimaisha katika nchi za magharibi, ambayo katu hawazielewi na baadaye kuitumbukiza watoto wao katika janga ambazo tuzionazo hivi sasa. Ni uhuru ambao hawajawahi kuuona , eeh… kesha ulamba, utamu wamfanya awasahau mme na watoto aliowapenda, kwa muigo ambao hauelewi. Tahadharini wanaume.

    • kiptoo said

      Command of English, spoken or written, ranks at the top in business. Our main product is words, so a knowledge of their meaning and spelling and pronunciation is imperative. If a man knows the language well, he can find out about all else.
      — William Feather

      Someone needs to advise you in one sentence that you are really one boring man!
      For heavens sake don’t you have someone to talk to?

      • Fuko said

        Arap kiptoo, you are wrong about that. “Habari za nyumbani” ni about news from home. We visit this site to read porojos from home. I like reading from ITHAVETHIS well flowing swahili commentaries unlike others who mix both languages. Don’t be so mean with him or her. Ask him to in the only language you know: English. Give us some more ITHAVETHI.

      • mama watoto said

        kiptoo/gachungwa as leo stated sometime back is just but one nut kik hater kik. i dont believe and swear with the God of kirinyaga and nayrobi there is any mkale who can command or has the intelli conveyred by this kik hiding behind a rumbwas title. igore the guy in total he deserves no attention,

      • cherono said

        I don’t see anything wrong if anyone respond to these posts in swahili. Kudos ITHAVETHI. I always enjoy reading your post. You got good command of the language. @mama watoto don’t take a few kales that you’ve met or know, to represent the entire kale community. I take offense to that. I know of great swahili kales witters and speakers. Glad you sweared “with the God of Kirinyaga and nayrobi” and not the God of heaven and earth.

  4. My son fought with his girlfriend the girl called police and my son was arrested, then he was released on bail, and was told to attend to court. The judge give him restraining order , but they continued to be together.

    • KERATO said

      My marriage was over 4yrs after we settled in the U.S, for 15yrs we stuck together under the same roof for the sake our twin kids. It seems weird to pretend that things are normal, sleep in separate bedrooms and all other stuff but believe me it turned out to be better for these kids. Never put them through divorce trauma or worry about child or alimony support. They’re off to college now and mature enough to understand that me and their mother need to part ways. It was a slow painstaking alternative to divorce or constant domestic fights with deadly consequences.

      • mwangi said

        Ohh waoo so enlighten us Kerato, for 15 yrs you stayed under the same roof, diff bedrooms and what would happen on holidays, relas visiting etc what of in law rshp? how did all this play out? i mean 2 years maybe, 15 bana wewe?? and you want to tell us the twins grew up stable and knowing that in a normal rshp father and mother live separate lives and sleep in two bedrooms? What of natural urges? what did you two do about them? am intrigued by this setup!

      • KERATO said

        For Mr. mwangi,this was a tough one but it worked out for a no. of reasons. Since my twins were still young it was needless to involve them in our endless fights…we duped them all along that we were normal parents. Relatives and friends were least trusted and so they were in a total black-out about our issues. There was a mutual agreement between me and my ex-wife that since we were practically separated dating and sex with our respective partners was fine as long as it was done away from our home and kids. As i said earlier it was tough but it saved us from that trip to divorce court, offered the twins a ‘normal home with two parents” and of course shared responsiblities(financially).

      • ITHAVETHI. said

        It was the wisest thing to do, Kerato. Marriage is not always between a man and a woman especially where beautiful innocent children are involved. Most couples are too selfish and forget that the interest of the children are paramount and above everything else. You are a rare male Kenyan and pray your mature way of dealing with family issues will be of help to many who are going through marital problems. Way to go,Sir!

        Watoto ni wetu, watunzwe vilivyo bila kuhusishwa katika mizozano na farakano za mme na mke. Kwako wewe Arap Kiptoo!!

  5. Jamo. said

    Stop it , CRAP!!!!!

  6. Aggrey Luteya said

    If you hang around trash you will smell like it, and remember there is a solution to every problem in life.
    What those brothers went through was terrable, though not knew to me.. I ‘ve heard similar stories before.With the case of Nyaga and Maureen only GOD will purnish a ms.Maureen.Her prize is coming big!!!!!!!

  7. Johana Wanjikru Thuku said

    The authour is highlighting a reality, and it’s safe to say “when you go to Rome do as the Romans do” . In Kenya women abuse is of high level so I thought and argued but even in Kenya nowadays women have gone a notch up and Men are loosing their place slowly but surely. It may not ring a bell but I witnessed a very abusive mariage where a man was beaten every nite and humiliated beyond belief. So while we address this issue let’s not forget it can go 2 ways. As for Nyaga and Maureen that’s a duce there… and not an isolated case. My friend brougt the girlfriend as well all the way from Kenya , and took her through her education, graduated , and eloped with another man w/o a warning. That’s what wecall pain in the rear. Some things done by humans to others is heneous, and really pathetic.Yes we are in America, and it’s a different culture but please cut each other a slack sio ndume wawili kwa nyumba. It all calls for understanding and open all lines of communication. In my discussin here, all I’m saying it’s happening both ways not one way. Abuse is no longer a husband issue , it’s either way. Before we jump the gun here too soon , remember we only go by what is said by both parties to their willing audiences , however, behind closed doors it’s a different ball game and a suprise of who the real culprits are. And to back Ithavethi up , the children are the ultimate loosers and parents seem not to realise the emotional and psychological issues affect them really bad.Parents divorce, engage in violent acts, domestis but again the kids pay the price. I hate these situtions coz they lead to such titles as baba wa kabo, baba wa makte, mama kiwinya, mke asiotoshka na orodha yaweza kuwa kubwa……such a debuckle…

    • Marie said

      whast wrong with dume wawili kwa nyumba ? who coined these saying anyway,its sounds so partriacial…men should also learn to listen to their wives and not behave like their desicions are the last to be heard…like them tene days where people used to say if a man coughs everyone jumps..

  8. Ole Naipa said

    Cases like Mauren’s are very common in Texas. Infact I have seen several of them involving men who brings their girlfriends or wives from Kenya to America and then get dumped once their spouses graduate from nursing school. It’s more so with Kikuyus than any other group from Kenya. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned with this cases

  9. Gladys said

    women in america take great advantage of thei husbands. am a woman but men take precautions when you enroll your wifes as nurses, the moment you pay fopr their education and starts earning the money that drives them mad, you automatically become nothing to them. let them work and educate themselves and you save for a rainny dat. 70 percent of women who gradute in nursing damp their men, to an extent of cheating openly with other married man. we clai for equality,women carry your cross, and stop using men as door mats, why other women in othr fields dont behave like the so called nurses, men are children of God and dont missuse them prostuting whike under the same roof

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