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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Polygyny in Israel

There's a battle in Israel over polygyny in some of the Muslim population. There are groups actively trying to end the practice.

Since polygamous marriages aren't recognized by the government, no official statistics exist. But the Research and Information Center of Israel's Knesset, or parliament, estimates that somewhere between 20 percent and 36 percent of bedouin households in the southern Negev region, where most of bedouin live, are polygamous.

Whatever the percentage, it is clearly not a rare practice.

Primarily a media campaign using posters with women's testimonials, the "No Excuse for Polygamy" initiative also holds meetings and seminars aimed at educating single women about the price of polygamy.

I have no problem with someone explaining to anyone else willing to listen why they would not want to participate in a polygynous marriage. But adults should be able to freely choose their own marriages, and that includes a woman choosing to be one of two, three, or four wives to one husband.

With an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, Israeli bedouins are one of the fastest growing populations in the world.

Many polygamous populations are growing faster than the general population. That is going to mean more popular support for the right to polygamous marriage.

"Women are the greatest beneficiaries of polygamy," Abu-Da'abes told the Israeli-Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab.

Abu-Da'abes, while a supporter of the right to polygynous marriage, is no supporter of full marriage equality…

For that reason, Abu-Da'abes criticized Arab men who take foreign women in addition to their Arab wives, saying he would like to issue an Islamic legal opinion, known as a fatwa, against mixed marriages.

Any adult should be allowed to marry any other consenting adult(s).

Yazbak dismissed Abu-Da'abes' argument, saying polygamy causes poverty and dissolves the family structure.

I would like to see a comparison of divorce rates and other indcators of “dissolving the family structure” between this bedouin population and the professing monogamists in that country. I suspect the bedouins have a stronger family dynamic.

Again, I would like to point out that I support full marriage equality, and as part of that, gender equality. Both men and women have to be truly free to make their own choices about getting married and, if need be, getting divorced. I support the right to polyandry as much as I support th right to polygyny.
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