The family is the basic unit of society. Far from being the cradle in which the life of an individual is nurtured, it is a source of personal identity and it provides the template of social norms and values that go into shaping the individual’s personality.

Underlying the importance of the family, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in article 16 (3) states that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection both by society and the State. Accordingly, Kenya has assumed a number of obligations under international instruments and protocols and enacted various laws protecting the family both as a social unit as well as its individual members.

Moreover, the recognition of the unique role of women in the family unit has thrown into relief certain socialized discriminations against women which need to be eliminated through legislation that promotes gender equality.

Family and gender law is therefore an important branch of the law because of the role it plays in the definition of familial and gender relationships and the expression of the legal rights and obligations that emanate from those relationships. It deals primarily with the regulation of the social associations between adult couples on the one hand and adults and children on the other, as well as culturally engendered attitudes towards women and sexuality.

The Family and Gender Law Reports series seeks to distill family law and gender relations jurisprudence from mainstream case law so as to provide a platform upon which that jurisprudence may be evaluated and monitored.

G.B. Shollei

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