Monday, July 19, 2010

Some Saudi Muslims Promoting Polygyny

Apparently, some Saudi Muslims are promoting polygyny, noting that their faith allows men to have fours wives. They believe not enough people are taking advantage of this.

Women like Saudi journalist Nadine al-Bedair may be part of the reason for the practice's waning popularity. Al-Bedair wrote an article last year in the newspaper Al Masry Al Youm arguing that polygamy is an unfair practice, and should be allowed for both men and women (the law dictates that only men can take multiple spouses).

She’s right. Polyandry should be allowed the same as polygyny, and equal numbers of husbands and wives should be allowed in the same marriage, whether that is one each, two each, three each, or four each. I know Islam doesn’t teach that, but the laws should provide for it.

She also called attention to the poor treatment of multiple spouses; in Islam, men aren't supposed to take another wife unless they can care for them equally.

Spouses being treated poorly can’t be blamed on any form of polygamy. Spouses in monogamous marriages or people living together unmarried or seeing each other but not living together are subject to various forms of poor treatment, including abuse.

But Saudi Arabia, one of the most conservative countries in the Middle East, has a political system that's hardly favorable to female equality. Women need a male guardian to study, access health services, travel abroad or have a business, and can't associate with a man who is not in their immediate family.

There’s the problem. Not someone consenting to be married.

"Polygamy's time is over," said Thomas Lippman, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

If you really believe that, then make sure people can do it if they want, and then let it die on its own. The same goes for any kind of relationship. While there may not be a large minority in a population seeking to enter into a given kind of relationship, laws against that kind of relationship should be repealed so that they can’t be used to persecute people who've decided to have those relationships.

Women, Lippman explains, are expensive. Each wife, for example, requires a private driver who must be paid for and housed.

Equality changes that dramatically.
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