Polygamy is a Greek word that means the practice of multiple marriages. Polygamy was considered to fulfill men’s desires on the grounds of strong cultural considerations. Nowadays, Polygamy is considered in Islamic countries and some rural areas around the word. However, it was difficult to provide statistics on the issue of polygamy because of the lack of communication. The man can marry up to four wives. Each wife constitutes a separate household with the husband visiting his wives in turn. Human Rights:
Human rights deny gender differences and strive to maintain equality in social rules. Gender equality means an equal visibility, empowerment and participation of both sexes in all spheres of public and private life. Human rights discourse prohibits polygamy and the act of practicing it.
Human rights theory is against the notion of polygamy. Human rights discourse states that polygamy is against the dignity of women and their human rights. Polygamy violates the right of equality between men and women; indeed, by allowing men to have more than one wife but preventing women from doing it, the right of equality is violated.
In addition, human rights discourse is against the practice of polygamy. It violates women’s right of spending enough time with their husband and children’s right to be raised within a stable family. The idea of allowing the husband to choose polygamy is not considered as slavery or exclusion of the women’s right to decide; on the other hand, it is considered as traditional family life in which the husband is the head of the family.
However, the wife can take the place of her husband as the head of the family when the law deprives his civil rights, as if the husband is in jail. On the other hand, polygamy violates the rights of children. Men that have more than one wife do not have enough time to spend it with their children compared with men that have one wife. In addition, their wives try to compete with other wives in order to impress and entertain the man. As a result, children will not have enough time to spend it with their parents.
Polygamy requires a lot of time and money; indeed, the man is ordered to fulfill the needs of his wives equally. That will decrease his financial status and this will result in a decrease in health and educational status. Kent acknowledges that polygamists refuse the common life styles and beliefs they live apart from public scrutiny or association, and are more vulnerable to violating civil rights (Kant, 2006).
Canadian civil marriage act (2005) defines marriage as “the lawful union of one two persons to the exclusion of others”. This definition of marriage excludes polygamy. Even though there were laws in Canada prohibiting polygamy before 2009, Winston Blackmore and James Oler were the first polygamists arrested in Canada in January 2009. The maximum penalty for polygamists is 5 years in jail. Although Canadian law assures freedom of religious expression, Polygamy is prohibited. Legal experts say the case promises to pit Canada’s antipolygamy law against the country’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of religious expression.
Divine command theory in Islam respect gender differences and it maintains equality between men and women. However, it is different in some cases. Divine command explains gender differences as being compatible to each other, which explains the differences in some cases. One of these few cases is polygamy.
Islamic law allows polygamy as stated in the quran “And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course” (4:3).
There are several conditions to be maintained in order for the man to marry more than one woman. The first and most fundamental condition is justice, the man have to maintain equality between his wives. He has to be equal in the time spent with the wife and the financial matters, but not his heart inclination. The man can love a wife or her children more than the other but he should keep that to himself and do not show it to his other wives by his behavior. A man should have a reasonable issue to have more than one wife, he should not have more than what he wants. As a result, if two women are enough their husband does not have to marry a third wife and so on. In addition, the man should be able to aid his family, so he cannot marry more than one wife if he is not able to satisfy all of his wives equally.
There are several types of aid: financial aid that extends to his children, the ability to satisfy the wives sexual desires. If the man is not able to satisfy the sexual desires of one wife, then he is not allowed to marry more than one. If a women states that her husband does not satisfy her sexual desires, she has the right to ask for divorce. To sum up, the man has to apply justice in the concepts of expenses, sex, and treatment in order to be eligible to have more than one wife.
Polygamy is allowed in Islam due to several reasons. First of all is increasing the population. Although one says that increased population causes problems on the society, it results in increased labour, which will increase economy. For example, China has the largest population in the world and they have a strong economical force. Another reason is the increased number of women compared with men in some countries. For example, an official statistic in Germany shows that in 1990 there were approximately 2.7 million more females than males; moreover, the incidents of dying men are more then women. This means that there will be many women without a husband that will lead to a decrease in the population and an increase in adultery and sexually transmitted disease. Childs of adultery are missing the traditional family life and that will reverse it on their behaviour.
There are many men that can not handle their sexual interactions and they need more than one women, so if they had more than one that will prevent them from adultery. In addition, men are prohibited to have sex during menstruation or confinement due to its medical harm. The most reason that makes men marry is to make a family, but this dream is impossible if the woman is infertile or has an illness. As a result, it is fair to marry another fertile women.
One says that polygamy will cause problems to the family and the wives will be competing with each other. The response for this critique is that problems can occur in every family even if there is one wife. Moreover, each wife has the right to live in her own house and the man can not force them to live in the same house.
Another one argues that if polygamy is allowed for men, it should be allowed for women as well. The response to this critique is that women are the carrier of the off spring and by having sex with more than a man the child’s identity will be lost. The children will not be able to recognize their father and it will confuse the society. In addition, the ties of the fatherhood with the children are going to be weak.
On April 15th, 2009 Afghanistan women protested in a Shia mosque in the country’s capital city because of a new law that was passed which forbid women to leave their homes without permission from a male relative and these women were also not allowed to refuse to have sex with their husbands. The 300 women who protested were young and organized by women’s rights activists. These Afghan women believed this new law was unacceptable and was a return to Taliban rule. Many local men were outraged by the protesting of these women and threw gravel and small stones at them. As a result, polygamy will decrese these problems. Conclusion:
From my point of view, I think that polygamy have more advantages and disadvantages. We can adapt and solve the disadvantages to make polygamy more successful. For example, one can spend more time with his family to make sure that the women and children are satisfied. On the other hand, polygamy should not be allowed without its provisions. Indeed, courts should make sure that polygamy conditions are accomplished, especially the right of justice and equality.
Kent, S. (2006, August). A matter of principle: fundamentalist Mormon polygamy, children, and human rights debates. Nova religio, 10(1), 7-29. Retrieved June 18, 2009, from ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials
Polygamists arrested for first time in Canada. (2009, February 10). Christian Century, Retrieved June 18, 2009, from Humanities International Complete database.
Polygamy Is Against Women’s Human Rights and Their Dignity, Experts Say, (2000). Retrieved June 14, 2009, from http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/51DA40508951B238C1256988002EE12E?opendocument
Polygamy reasons and conditions in Islam, (2007). Retrieved June 17, 2009, from http://akhawat.islamway.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=49647
Polygamy reasons in Islam, (2002). Retrieved June 14, 2009, from http://www.islamway.com/?iw_s=Article&iw_a=view&article_id=218#(1)