Has Kenya Registered More Than 2,000 Divorces in 2020?

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A tweet published on August 21 claims that there have been more than 2,000 divorces registered in Kenya in 2020.

Background

The ease in ending marriages follows a High Court ruling in September 2019 that nullified the law that couples can only divorce after three years of marriage.

A report published by the Human Rights Watch on June 25, 2020, indicates that data from 2008, the most recent year when data on the marital status by county in Kenya is available, shows that a total of 212,972 Kenyans were divorced and 355,018 were separated.

Not many divorce procedures such as distributing matrimonial property are done at the courts, the report adds.

The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey in 2014 found that the rate of divorce cases among women is higher than men. 11% of women are more likely to be divorced in comparison to 5% of men, the reports states. At the same time, “A higher proportion of men (44%) than women (29%) have never been married.”

An article published by The Standard translates the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, indicating that the gap in divorce rates among the two genders is mostly because most men have been in serial marriages. This is an arrangement where couples cohabitate without officially getting married.

“The factor mainly unaccounted for is serial marriage, which is currently more socially acceptable for men than it is for women,” the article states. “For every serial male monogamist, there is at least one or two more women whose status is divorced or separated.”

Verification

An article published on the Business Daily on February 29, 2020, reveals that the rate at which Kenyans have been filing for divorce has been increasing exponentially. The article states that there had been 149 divorce cases filed in the month of February 2020 alone. This report further compiles the total number of divorce cases filed annually from three years ago. The cases have gradually been increasing, with 1,108 cases filed in 2019, 1,009 cases in 2018 and 909 in 2017.

According to the article, part of the reasons divorce cases have been on the rise is due to the ease in ending marriages after a High Court ruling in September 2019 nullified the law that couples can only divorce after three years of marriage.

The article formed online conversations, with a tweep estimating that 149 divorce cases a month implies an average of 5 cases filed every day, while another speculated a total of 1,500 divorces by the end of 2020.

The Business Daily report is the only official publication indicating the total number of divorce cases filed in 2020. As at the time of going to press, no official report from the government or the media announced that there have been over 2,000 divorce cases filed in Kenya in 2020.

The claim that was published on Twitter on August 21, is seemingly exaggerated given that the total number of divorce cases filed by the end of the three previous years did not go past 1,108. Even going by estimates that there are five divorce cases being filed every day in 2020, the total number of divorces by the end of the year would still not have reached 2,000 cases.

Verdict

The claim that Kenya has registered more than 2,000 divorce cases in 2020 is FALSE.

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Linda Ngari