Topics: Polygamy, Family, United Arab Emirates Pages: 5 (3022 words) Published: October 31, 2014
Introduction Polygamy, the practice where one husband has many wives, is a hotly debated topic in the world. This practice can be found in many parts of the world, especially in North Africa as well as in the Middle East. In the latter area, there are many instances of polygamy and this habit has been researched by many scholars, especially from the point of view that this practice has bad effects on the women and children who are in these families. Many research papers call for this practice to be abolished due to its ill-effects and many calls are made on legal and religious experts to take a strong stand against it as women suffer through this practice. This essay will try to explain the different aspects of polygamy with reference to Bedouin polygamous marriages (Abu Rabia, 2011). What is polygamy Polygamy is a practice that is open to widespread misunderstandings. It is the practice which is defined as a relationship between one husband and multiple wives. It is neither exclusively Western nor non-Western and it has been practiced by some Hindus, Mormons, Muslims, and other cultural and religious groups throughout the world (Al-Krenawi Slonim-Nevo, 2006). Polygamous marriage is common in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands . It also occurs in Europe, North America, and other Western Societies. Correct, accurate and current statistics on the prevalence of polygamy around the world are not available as all cases are not reported or recorded. In African countries, estimates range from 20 to 50 of all marriages. There are higher rates reported among less educated husbands and wives. It is very prevalent among Muslims, and among rural residents. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the rates of polygamy among highly educated men who can afford a second wife. It was estimated in 2006 that in Muslim countries, 212 of all married men live in polygamous families. The most common number of wives per Muslim Arab man is two. The trend in polygamy has varied between different Arab countries. In some, the practice has declined, while in others the phenomenon increased, and in yet others have remained stable (Al-Krenawi Slonim-Nevo, 2006). The Law and Polygamy Abu Rabia (2008) argues that it is not an easy topic to address in terms of the law. This is especially so with reference to the problem of polygamous marriages in the Naqab desert area. According to her, there are many factors involved which make it a difficult issue to settle just in terms of the law. The law of 1977 classifies polygamy in the area as a crime punishable by imprisonment. However, it is not enforced among the Arab Bedouin as a result of so-called cultural sensitivity. Due to the law not being strictly applied, men get away with polygamy (Abu Rabia, 2011). Opponents of polygamy argue that it is done selectively in view of other harsh treatments of the Palestine people. It seems as if the authorities allow this habit in order to maintain good relations with the tribal leadership at the expense of the Arab Bedouin women. Polygamy and the Islamic (Sharia) system Polygamy is embodied in Islam as a religion. A man is accordingly permitted to marry up to four wives (Koran, Sura 4, Chapter 3). Islam permits this only if some criteria are met a man may not have more than four wives at any time he must have the appropriate economic means to provide equally for more than one woman he should also pay attention to and care for all women equally (Al-Krenawi Slonim-Nevo, 2006). Sharia religious system controls issues of marriage and divorce among Muslims. The system allows polygamous marriages under certain circumstances. It is argued that these marriages could have been performed by an official mazuun (Islamic notary).This highlights the discrimination against women and the favouring of mens rights according to Bedouin customs (Abu Rabia, 2008 Abu Rabia,2011). Suffering of Women in Polygamous marriages The women in these marriages...
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