Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fraternal Polyandry in the Himalayas in the News Again

Every once in a while, people notice traditional polyandry (a form of polygamy), in which a woman marries multiple men. With fraternal polyandry, the men are brothers. That means that while she has multiple husbands, she only has one mother-in-law.
When Tashi Sangmo was 17 she married a 14-year-old neighbour in a remote Himalayan village in Nepal and, as part of the package, she also agreed to wed his younger brother.

In ancient times, the sons of almost every family in the region of Upper Dolpa would jointly marry one woman but the practice of polyandry is dying out as the region begins to open up to modern life.

"Things are easier this way because everything we have stays in one family. It doesn't get divided among many wives and it is me in charge," said Sangmo, who uses a dialect of Tibetan and was speaking through an interpreter.

"Two brothers bring in the money and it's me who decides what to do with it."
Yet, there are prejudiced anti-equality people who try to tell us that polygamy always oppresses women.
Marriages are typically arranged, with a family picking a wife for their oldest son and giving the younger brothers the chance to wed her later.

In some cases the wives will even help raise their future husbands, entering into sexual relationships with them when they are considered mature enough.

Unlike most men in conservative, predominantly Hindu Nepal, husbands in polyandrous marriages handle domestic duties, helping with cooking and childcare, while women are in charge of the money.
Interesting, no?
Polyandry works well where there is a division of labour between brothers -- one to look after livestock, one to help the wife in the fields and one to join the trade caravan.

Many also see it as a kind of life assurance, highlighting the added security for women of an arrangement which means they will not be left alone if one husband dies.
There are good reasons people have nonmonogamous marriages. Their marriages are no less valid or reason than monogamous marriages. Although customs and conditions are different in places like the US, Canada, Australia, England, or France, why shouldn’t they allow people to have polyandrous marriages if that is what they want?
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  1. I noticed you mentioned France. I’m just curious—are you aware that France does not prohibit ‘incestuous’ marriages?

    1. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I was aware that France didn't prosecute consensual incestuous sex, but was not aware that close relatives can legally marry in France. The most progressive country I knew about was Sweden, where, under some circumstances, half-siblings can legally marry. Is it really true that France would legally marry close relatives? Which relationships?

    2. France does not allow incestuous marriages. It does however not have laws against incest between consensual adults.

  2. swm in canada men out number women here because the country imports mostly men polyandry women should be imported to canada and make it legal so i then can have a wife thank you keith pullman


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