In the Newsroom

November 2, 2009
Is polygamy good for women?

A proposal last week by Malaysia’s Islamic party argued that polygamy can be beneficial for women.

The conservative Islamic party has called for Muslim men in the country to marry single mothers instead of “young virgin girls,” said a state official. Al-Arabiya news channel quoted Wan Ubaidah, head of women, family and health affairs in a northern state,  remarking that although Malaysian men usually prefer young and virgin girls as their additional wives, this new proposal would help single mothers and widows who are finding it hard to raise their kids.

Muslim men in Malaysia are allowed to marry up to four women under the approval of the Islamic courts but it’s not widespread in the country. The proponents of the practice say it helps disadvantaged women like single mothers and widows and discourage adultery and prostitution. But many women’s rights activists condemn it as an unequal and unjust practice against women.

The debate over polygamy has been going on in Malaysia for awhile now. In August, a “polygamy club,” was founded in the country to promote polygamous marriages. The aim is to help “single mothers, reformed prostitutes and women who feel they are past the marrying age” find the appropriate spouse to marry. The club claims to have 1000 members of which 700 are women.

A possible opening of a branch of the club in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia, has provoked outrage among some religious leaders and women’s rights groups in that country. According to the Associated Press, analysts believe the number of men who prefer to marry more than one wife is rising in Indonesia,  and includes some religious leaders and political figures.

Islamic law allows for a man to marry up to four wives under the condition that he can provide for all four of them fairly and equally. The practice is especially common in traditional Arab countries like Saudi Arabia. But it’s prohibited in more secular predominantly Muslim countries such as Turkey, Tunisia and Bosnia-Herzegovina,  and abhorred by many women’s rights activists.

Explore the legal status of polygamy with this interactive map.

Map of polygamy worldwide, courtesy of Wikipedia user Zombieisland09

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Comments

10 comments

#10

It’s so funny how people who say polygamy is bad have never tried it or even met people who have been in a polygamous marrige. Honestly I don’t understand how citizens have let their governments ban it when there are no reasons at all for why it should be banned.

#9

If polygamy is illegal as if to commit marital rape for taking spousal sex for granted, then go for girlfriends who are NOT illegal as consenting adults who are much more affordable in discos and nightclubs rather than having to follow the customs and tradition of having extravagant wedding parties.

#8

what does it matter ? legal marriages have a 53 percent failure rate , civil unions dont ensure fidelity, stats show interacial connections are usually trophy based for status embellishment,most romantic attractions are momentairy infatuations with physicle attributes being prime issues..

#7

putting a number on age differancial between potential wife to husband is theoretically flawed because it assumes a premise based on physicle attributes, ignoring other positive aspects that may be involved, courting along with a lengthy relationship has been proven to last until teh end, happiness is the goal when both are living for each other,

#6

[...] Is polygamy good for women? 2 11 2009 This blog was published on the website of the international news program Worldfocus on PBS [...]

#5

[...] Is polygamy good for women? 9 11 2009 This blog was published on the website of the international news program Worldfocus on PBS [...]

#4

The world today requires to achive population control & peaceful living. There could be more tussles/litigations,disputes or even wars if polygomy is allowed to male/females. Our women folks would be or have been natural victims of all such male dominated tricks. A man or a woman will enjoy better sex life, if they would stick to single living partner(forget about enjoying physicaly)What needs to be encouraged is easy marriages of widows/divorcees without any intervention by the society of any religion-need of which shall be solely decided by the concerned person. In short, stick to only one at a time & be faithful so long as you are wedlocked to him/her. Secondly, happy marriage can be ensured, if the age difference does not exceed +/- 5 years, as the sex-life therein very well attends to both physical & emotional aspects

#3

We need to look at the broad scope of an issue before righting if off. So the men are in this article are being encouraged to marry single mothers and women who are “past the marrying age” and help raise these women’s children and contribute to taking care of them all financially. So what if he has another wife he equally cares for? In America how many women (many with children) are currently all sleeping with the same man (whether or not they know it)and yet he has no legal responsiblity to them? How many men in the U.S. have fathered umpteen number of children (unmarried) and are not contributing financially or otherwise to help these children be raised? At least polygamy gives the women some rights in the sense that the men are required to take care of them. Everywhere I go I hear women complain there are no men- if practiced properly, here’s a possible solution. Things are not always so black and white as western culture would have us to believe…

#2

Polygamy is at least honest. In the so-called enlightened West, its perfectly acceptable, even enviable and socially encouraged, to have a mistress, however, its frowned to confer upon said mistress the moniker of wife. All the women (and some men) who want to point out that polygamy is unequal for women and sundry other nonsense, I say stick it up where the sun don’t shine. The West is full of hypocrites — especially the wine wine swilling so-called “progressives.”

#1

Polygamy is good for women? What a horse laugh! The United Nations Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that polygamy contravenes women’s equality rights and harms their children by impoverishing them. The more “wives” (in reality, concubines in a harem) that a man has, the more children he fathers, the less money there will be for each of his dependents. Should he die, his estate will have to be shared among many wives and who knows how many children? There is also the great possibility of jealousy among the “wives” as they strive for more attention for themselves and their children. And what about sex? The man will be enjoying a sex-fest, while his “wives” will be rationed. The cruel, selfish practice of polygamy belongs to the dark ages when women were considered nothing more than chattels. It should have been kicked into the garbage can of history centuries ago.

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