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DR.

RAM MANOHAR LOHIYA NATIONAL LAW


UNIVERSITY, LUCKNOW (U.P.)

Session- 2017- 2018

Subject: Conflict of Law

Final Draft

On

Impact of a Polygamous Marriage on Children and Family


SUBMITTED TO SUBMITTED BY

Dr. Prem Kumar Gautam

Assistant Professor (Law) Sec-A

Dr. RMLNLU Lucknow Enroll No-14010

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and deep regards to my Assistant
Professor Dr. Prem Kumar Gautam for his exemplary guidance, monitoring and constant
encouragement to give shape to this project. The blessing, help and guidance given by him
time to time shall carry me a long way in the journey of life on which I am about to embark.

I also take this opportunity to express a deep sense of gratitude to my respected seniors who
share their cordial support, valuable information and guidance, which helped me in
completing this task through various stages.

Lastly, I thank the almighty, my parents, brother, sisters and friends for their constant
encouragement without which this assignment would not have been possible.

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Contents

 Introduction
 Polygamy and the economy
 Polygamous marriages and Human Rights
 Hinduism Does Not Favour Polygamy
 Impact on family and children
 Community & household mapping as an integral part of
programming
 Consider appropriate strategies to identify & engage with
households and with ‘heads of household’
 Ensure that economic empowerment programs promote
equitable power & gender relations
 Co-wife relations
 Organization of polygamous foyers and co-wife relations
 Problems with polygamy
 Conclusion

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Introduction
Polygamy is a marital relationship involving multiple spouses and occurs in several forms.
The most common form of polygamy occurs when a man has more than one wife at the same
time, known as polygyny. Less frequently, it occurs when a woman has more than one
husband (polyandry) and when more than one husband is married to more than one wife.
Polygamy is legally practiced in various countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa,
although not practiced by all. Factors affecting the occurrence of polygamy include social,
economic and religious factors. The focus of this review is on the most common form of
plural marriage, polygyny, i.e. one husband with more than one wife. 1

Polygamy has been a prominent feature in most communities worldwide. It is deeply rooted
in the early lifestyles of our ancestors. Over the years, polygamy has become the subject of
numerous books, journal articles, heated debates, discussion papers, a theme for women
activist groups, web pages, and even cable television shows. Consequently, many contrasting
policies in different communities have been adopted in relation to polygamy. Polygamy is the
practice of having more than one wife or husband at a given time.
Although the worldwide percentage of men with more than one wife is relatively minuscule,
as many as a third of the world's population belongs to a community that allows it. If one
were to consider the patriarchal characteristic of many societies around the world, it is safe to
conclude that there is a potential for the unequal and discriminative treatment of wives by
their husbands in polygamous marriages. With this in mind, there is an urgent need to address
such treatment of women in polygamous marriages, regardless of their social, cultural,
religious and also economic background.
There are some cases where wives in polygamous marriages have suffered. In a study
conducted by Nurrohmah (2003) it was found that, of the nine women in polygamous
marriages, all had experienced psychological abuse; five of them suffered physical, economic
and sexual abuse. However, it would also be a mistake to believe that all polygamous
marriages are abusive. These opinions were frequently rationalized by feelings that polygamy
creates inequality amongst co-wives since the husband cannot care for and cater to the needs
of more than one wife and that polygamy gives men “boundless power and authority”. Where
co-existence amongst the families seems to be flourishing, relationships between co-wives

1
Mohammad Al-Sharfi, Karen Pfeffer and Kirsty A. Miller, The effects of polygamy on children and
adolescents: a systematic review ,
http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/19573/7/19573%20AlSharfi%20Pfeffer%20Miller%202015.pdf

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have been found to be especially beneficial to women’s economic and political power. While
women might initially feel uncomfortable and envious when a new woman enters the
household, these sentiments usually fade away to ensure harmonious relationships and the
equal treatment of the wives. In a study conducted by Rehman (2011), a small proportion of
women indicated that they would agree to enter into polygamous marriages if given such an
option. Many women living in polygamy support plural marriage and appear to find
happiness and satisfaction within their family structures. Some women even encourage their
husbands to marry additional wives. Certain anecdotes reveal genuine love and
companionship among polygamous spouses and within their entire family unit, leaving us to
question whether polygamy is intrinsically damaging to the spousal relationship.2
Children, however, can be adversely affected by polygamous marriages. The rivalry between
the co- wives more often than not prove damaging to the children in polygamous families. In
addition, the thoughts and beliefs children encounter are controlled, allowing them only to
learn polygamist beliefs, thus “blinding children from the existence of life outside
polygamy”. Such children tend to believe that the polygamous lifestyle is the only way out
and hence they often end up attached to a polygamous life style. Children attached to
polygamous lifestyle view polygamy as the only key that can only lead them to the happiness
that they aspire to have in life.
Christian polygamists, claiming to come from conservative churches, quote Hebrew and
Christian Scriptures and cite Biblical patriarchs to support their understanding of polygamy
as something scriptural Shipps (1987) depicts Mormonism as the fourth great Abrahamic
tradition, standing in relation to contemporary Christianity just as early Christianity once did
to Judaism. Sullivan (2007) and Gordon (2001) illustrate the centrality of federal efforts to
eradicate Mormon polygamy by defining the nature and limits of what is officially, legally,
and constitutionally legitimate religious practice in the US.
There are places like Cameroon where polygamy is practiced due to economic factors. The
conceptualization of wealth is the heart of this problem. Women and children are viewed
largely as laborers and producers. Wives produce children and gardens, while girl children
produce dowry, provide personal service, and are valuable for increasing garden income. The
cash income from all a man’s gardens belongs to him exclusively and he shares as little as
possible with his wives. Wives have a great desire to own, and if they do not find that they
receive an equitable proportion of the cash income from their labour, they are anxious to

2
Tsoaledi Daniel Thobjane, An Exploration of Polygamous Marriages: A Worldview(December 2014),
http://www.mcser.org/journal/index.php/mjss/article/viewFile/5179/4996.

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‘seek other means of securing money. However, the wives may do by encouraging and
helping the husband to secure other wives. This gives each wife an opportunity to free herself
from the close control of her husband, to sell her garden produce in a market town, to find
employment, and to have financially rewarding extramarital sex relations. In Utah, in the
United States of America, polygamy is constitutionally and statutorily prohibited. Article III,
Section 1 of Utah’s Constitution guarantees perfect toleration of religious sentiment. It
further provides that no inhabitant of that State shall ever be molested in person or property
on account of his or her mode of religious worship. However, polygamous or plural
marriages are forever prohibited. Thus, in Utah, polygamous marriages are prohibited.
However, specific actions to be taken and punishments to be given in relation to the breach of
such laws are not specified.
Polygamy is prevalent in Muslim communities. The most well-known polygamous
communities are associated with a religious doctrine that supports it. Muslims practicing
polygamy refer to the verse in the Qur’an (4:3) which states that a man may marry up to four
wives. However, polygamy is not exclusive to such countries only. It is estimated that as
many as 30,000 people also practice polygamy in the Western United States and Canada.
Polygamy in America was historically scorned as anti-democratic and a threat to the modern
social order. Over time, this perceived threat has died down, allowing practicing polygamists
to generally go unnoticed.
While polygamy is strongly denounced in several passages of the Book of Mormon, the Old
Testament provides ample evidence that it was acceptable in ancient Israel. The Bible has
evidence of the existence of polygamy in Christian societies of that time. For instance,
Genesis 4 verse 19 holds: “And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was
Adah, and the name of the other was Zillah.” The importance of this verse is that during these
times, in Christian communities, polygamy was in existence and accepted by the society.
According to Judaism, it is notable that most of the Old Testament Prophets were
polygamous. According to the Old Testament, Abraham “the friend of God” and he had more
than one wife, David had one hundred wives; and Solomon is even said to have had 700
wives and 300 concubines. This serves to show that the culture or the concept of polygamy is
rooted in our ancestral history.
In the United States, polygamy has been practiced primarily by the Mormon Church,
although the practice is much more prevalent in other parts of the world. There are various
reality programmes on television that show that polygamy is indeed happening. The Learning
Channel’s (“TLC”) hit reality television show; Sister Wives shows the prevalence of
polygamy in the United States. While polygamy is most common among Fundamentalist

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Mormons, there are also some Muslim polygamists in the United States. However, the actual
incidence of these families is undetermined, and there is very little available literature on
Muslim polygamists in North America.
Hyde v. Hyde3 established the modern understanding and legal definition of marriage. Court
said that with respect to marriage, English law could therefore not recognise either polygamy
or concubinage as marriage. Similarly, he found that cultural traditions of which the court had
no knowledge could not form the basis for a court decision. The court dismissed claim.

Polygamy and the economy


Some supporters of polygamy claim it makes for an economically stronger family because
there are more people working and bringing money into the home, including children. In
Kyrgyzstan, many believe that due to ongoing financial instability, a collective approach to
making ends meet is more pragmatic than an individual effort. According to sociologist
Minojat Tashbayeva (2007) polygamy exists due to the poverty of the majority of the
population, and there is no way to eliminate it without improvement of living standards.
Hamid Toursunof (2007) spoke to many women in Kyrgyzstan who said they would marry a
man who is already married if he is prepared to care for them and their children.
However, polygamy has had some of the heavy economic burdens the families of
polygamous marriages have had to contend with. The standard of living is higher today and
consumer items and other basic necessities of life such as education, medical care, shelter,
and clothing, are much more expensive than they used to be. A negative effect results from
this economic stress, as the wives are not taken care of, the children are not given good
education. As a result, the burden is invariably transferred to the extended family such as
uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, in-laws and other relatives. These relatives are sometimes
unable to help financially because they too have their own economic problems.
Thus, marrying more than one wife does not only cause economic hardship to the man, but
also to other members of the extended family network in the community.
Gender expert, Nomboniso Gasa, states: “It is the height of irresponsibility for men whose
positions do not allow them to ensure that all wives and children are treated equitably and
adequately supported, to enter into polygamous unions.” She notes that the reality is that most
South African men cannot afford to have multiple wives, but many still aspire to. In addition,
men in such relationships are more likely to have lower levels of education than men in

3
{LR } 1 P. & D. 130

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monogamous relationships. It is apparent from this discussion, therefore, that, there are both
benefits and disadvantages in polygamous marriages.4

Polygamous marriages and Human Rights


In relation to Human Rights and international conventions, claims that there are no human
rights instruments that actually prohibit polygamous marriages, but rather most often they
provide mixed and conflicting messages on the matter. The only instrument that expressively
considers polygamous marriages is the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and
Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa. This African document only encourages
monogamous marriages in Article 6, but also provides for equal rights for men and women in
marriage. Following this, internationally we see that there exist different opinions regarding
polygamous marriages, women’s rights and cultural rights. As we have seen above,
researchers claim that polygyny in contexts such as Tanzania violates several of women’s
human rights. It also clashes with Western norms including various countries that prohibit
bigamy, where making it an offence often raises issues concerning the legal status of
immigrants.

Hinduism Does Not Favour Polygamy

Hindu scriptures describe family as a social institution, and at the same time as an integral
part of this illusory world. In the ultimate sense the institution of family is meant to keep each
individual chained to the world of illusion. The relationships in the family are meant to
develop attachment, selfishness and desires. In the end these relationships really do not last,
just as everything here is impermanent and each individual is left to himself or herself to take
care of liberation. When it comes to the pursuit of the three chief aims of human life
(purusharthas), namley dharma (religion), artha (wealth) and kama (sensual pleasure), we
may take advantage of conjugal relationships, but in case of the fourth aim, moksha
(liberation), we have to take sole responsibility for its attainment, by withdrawing ourselves
from all relationships, attachments and allurements.

4
Marina Adshade, The Economics of Monogamy and Polygyny, http://bigthink.com/dollars-and-/the-
economics-of-monogamy-and-polygyny.

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From a spiritual perspective, Hinduism therefore rightly views family as an illusion (samsara
maya) and the main cause of our attachments. A family is a coming together of different
souls, each having his or her own distinct spiritual agenda and final destiny, joined together
by some predominant goals or purposes and bound by the karma of their previous lives. Some
relationships may last over several lives, while some are meant for a short duration. Hidden
in each relationship are some important lessons, messages and learning opportunities, by
knowing which we make progress in our lives. On the evolutionary path, each soul has to
work out its own salvation by its self-effort. Others may facilitate or obstruct the process,
according to the choices we make. What appears to be other peoples' involvement or
interference in one's life is, in reality, nothing to do with oneself but with themselves. Family
relationships are, in a way, a great distraction, because they develop attachment and delay the
liberation of the soul. What is true and what makes life meaningful is our relationship with
God, because in the real sense the hidden self is nothing but God only. Hinduism therefore
exhorts every individual to be wary of the illusory nature of the family and develop a divine
oriented attitude, while performing their obligatory duties as a sacrifice to God.

Since family itself is an instrument of maya, polygamy makes it more difficult for the male
person involved in it to break out of his illusions. The extent of karmic burden created out of
multiple conjugal relationships is enormous due to the number of lives that become entwined
with him in his role as the husband and the father of many children who are born through
different wives. Whatever he does or does not would affect the lives of the women he married
and those of their children. Spiritually, therefore polygamy is the least desirable option for an
individual to pursue.

Impact on family and children

Polygamy is featured with jealousy and competition among wives. It is more likely that wives
have short private time with the husband and so that may vie his favor. In a few of
communities, self-worth of women is based on number of children and so that they'd like to
spend more time with their husband.

It is shown in some studies that jealousy between wives may increase and escalate to
different levels even they reach up to physical injuries by women and suicide trails among the
women. Families live mainly in overcrowded conditions making aggravates conflicts and
stress between co-wives. It is confirmed that one of the biggest problem in polygamous

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marriage that education attainment and academic achievement of children as well as
psychological problems of men. Many studies have made sure that there is a close
relationship between polygamy and psychological problems among children and women
inside polygamous families. Al-Sharbeni (2002) confirmed that the first wife is affected with
psychologically in polygamous marriage and hence they are vulnerable to visit mental health
centers.

In accordance with Jordanian study stressed that polygamy affected rate of drop in school
among children, escalated addiction of alcohol, juvenile delinquency as well as causing to
low self-esteem. It was indicated that women who were living in polygamous marriage, have
more problems than other type of marriage "monogamy" in terms of marital problems. In
addition, polygamous women are less satisfied with their life because they feel pains,
sufferings and jealous from co-wives. Although a wife prepare what she owns to her husband
for obtaining his satisfaction, but the husband may not mainly appreciate efforts and works of
his wife. Polygamous marriage introduces several pressures on the women and problems in
functioning and psychological acts.

Furthermore, polygamy has negative effects and influences on mental health adolescents and
teenagers. It is confirmed that family structure has main effects on mental health for the
children; so the biggest problem in polygamous families is families will be more aggressive,
have disorder sin conducts and behaviour, difficulties in communication and adjustment
problems. There are also poor in self-concept and high rate of attrition of school as well as
sexual activity and abuse of drug and alcoholism. Children are also suffering from poor in
their well-being due to bad nutrition and low interest and care with children. Moreover,
family conflict is considered as usual pheromone in polygamous families.

It is existed greatly in rural places because families need to increase number of the labor
force, so that women and children are forced to work in farming. It is shown; polygamy has
negative impacts on women and children. Polygamous women have low self-esteem,
inequality among co-wives, have mental and psychological problems. They are suffering
from physical pains and problems; while children are vulnerable to serious consequences in
their education. It is concluded that children who live in polygamous families are low
education attainment and achievement, drink alcohol, school absence, have obstacles in social
adjustment. In addition, family structure is poor among children, co-wives and parents.
Accordingly, polygamy is considered a serious social problem may threat and damage

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families at any time. Therefore, this issue should be tackled in further research to give more
recommendations and solutions to avoid communities from potential risks.

Community & household mapping as an integral part of programming


Wives in segmented foyers tended to describe house-holding as if they were singular wives.
This is likely a result of their engagement with separate processes of production (separate
fields, separate yards, separate kitchens and so on). However even where an arrangement is
segmented, program planning and design should give due consideration to the ongoing and
continued negotiation that a woman will be engaging in with regard to allocation of resources
(most typically determined by their husband). As well as this, physical separation in no way
reduces the level of insecurity that wives potentially face or the competition for resources that
exists between them. With these factors in mind, DRC program staff should consider
community and household mapping as an integral part of their programming work, with the
consent and awareness of program participants and to ensure that every effort is made to
mitigate potential conflict or harm. Without this kind of mapping, program activities may
unwittingly intensify competition between households; and/or may fail to recognize that a
given situation within a foyer may affect a woman’s desire and ability to join program
activities. This mapping should inform program targeting as well as program design.

Consider appropriate strategies to identify & engage with households and with ‘heads
of household’
A woman can be classed as de-facto head of household if, for example, she has been
widowed or is divorced. In reality, household headship is more complex than this. Program
teams should consider how best to work with this variance in household structure, and how to
elicit pertinent information regarding actual house-holding, while respecting the privacy of
individuals concerned. Questions to consider include:
• In the cases of women in polygamous foyers whose husbands have withdrawn considerably
or who are present on an inconsistent basis, is this woman a de facto head of household?

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• Will she identify as such if asked? In her the everyday roles and responsibilities does she
effectively fill the head of household function?
• What does this mean for program engagement with her?
It should be noted that these insights are not so easily gleaned through the format of
structured meetings or questionnaires. This requires well-crafted and appropriately delivered
household surveys, regular and well facilitated meetings and interactions with community
and particularly women and by using sensitive and informed qualitative research methods as
part of routine planning and monitoring.

Ensure that economic empowerment programs promote equitable power & gender
relations
With segmented foyers, men’s presence is distributed across a number of households. This
can provide them with scope to neglect their obligations to wives and children. It can also
mean that a woman’s responsibility for provisioning is augmented since her husband is
apparently providing for a number of wives, or does not support them consistently. With this
in mind, economic empowerment program must go beyond providing women with additional
resources since this risks de-responsiblising of husbands. Program must consider relations
between spouses as well as issues of power, agency and control over resources, and aim to
support transformation of inequitable power relations. Moreover, program that support
women’s livelihoods should not be conceived as the means to addressing family poverty;
such assumptions ignore the interdependence and complexity of social relations within the
foyer and beyond.

Co-wife relations
With segmented foyers in the majority, one could conclude that ‘co-wife relations’ play out
in the form of indirect competition for presence of spouse and allocations. However the
accounts demonstrate that relations extend beyond this. They convey direct experiences of
and relations between co-wives, as well as how these relations determine experience of the
marriage overall, including influence.
Relations between co-wives depend in part on living arrangements. In cases where the foyer
is non-segmented the interaction will be daily. In cases where the foyer is segmented the level
of interaction will depend on spatial factors like whether the women farm in the same field,
or go to the same market. It can also depend on whether a husband is proactive in fostering
connection between wives.

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Whatever the level and nature of interaction, women keep abreast of who the other wife
is/wives are, where they are at a given time and, as far as possible, their relationship with
their common husband.
Within a plural wife foyer, it is important that a wife knows and understands the position of
other actors in the marriage. It is through her ongoing relations with spouse as well as these
co-wives that a woman securitizes her present and her future. Any accounts of co-wife
relations, including conflict, must be understood as such. Since segmented arrangements were
more common among those interviewed, this is the arrangement that underpins much of the
discussion below. At the same time, many of the points are applicable to nonsegmented
arrangements and aspects particular to nonsegmented arrangements are important to note as
well.
The study revealed that wives in polygamous unions are aware of, and sensitive to, their
changing levels of influence within the household, and the implications of this for their
access to their spouse and resources. The anxiety over influence was reported to contribute to
competitive relationships between wives in many polygamous households. In theory, social
norms frame the hierarchy of co-wives based on the order of their marriage; a first wife is
expected to hold a privileged position. In practice, however, the study revealed that these
hierarchies are fluid and dynamic, shifting in response to changing circumstances and
patterns of favouritism. Within polygamous unions, a wife’s influence is shaped by a variety
of factors, including the nature of a wife’s relationship with her husband and resources that
she possesses or is perceived to possess. Co-wife relations, like all relationships, are complex
and fluid. They can range (and change) from cordial to acrimonious, depending on a number
of factors, including the degree to which the woman herself feels secure within the marriage
as well as the extent to which a husband is perceived to be treating each wife equitably. Co-
wives are connected by being part of the same node. This shared experience can generate
both affinities which may persist in times of conflict and mistrust which can underscore
cordial relations.5

5
Emma Newbury and Sive Bresnihan, UNDERSTANDING WOMEN’S LIVES IN POLYGAMOUS
MARRIAGES: EXPLORING COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVES IN SIERRA LEONE & DRC (june, 2017),
https://www.trocaire.org/sites/default/files/resources/policy/1-overview-report-polygamy_0.pdf.

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Indian scenario

In a recent, the Supreme Court of India stated that the Muslims like every other community in
India have the right to follow their religion but in terms of equality and as per the constitution
of India, those rights don’t allow them to have multiple wives. Many would see this as an
injustice to the Muslims but I don’t think it is. I believe that banning polygamy in India is the
best justice for the women in India. It is nowhere relevant to any particular religion but it’s a
question of morality. As a man couldn’t bear his wife being with another man, similarly it is
not easy for a woman to share her husband with another woman either.

The judgment came from Supreme Court Justices T.S. Thakur and A.K. Goel that said,
“What was protected under Article 25 (right to practice and propagate any religion) was the
religious faith and not a practice which may run counter to public order, health or morality.
Polygamy was not integral part of religion and monogamy was a reform within the power of
the State under Article 25.” Although the judgment was ruled against a Muslim opposing the
tradition where they are allowed to have multiple wives, the Justices also ruled that for public
order, equality and justice in India, it was essential to regulate marriage issues within the
country especially those dealing with polygamy practices. The ruling actually came against a
Government employee who was fired for misconduct after it was found that he had a second
marriage in spite of being already married. The judgment was supported by the fact that no
religion is bigger than Indian laws and polygamy isn’t an important practice in any religion in
India. This is the first time that Indian law has ruled out against an unnecessary or immoral
practice that is shielded through religion by certain authorities irrespective of the fact that
polygamy has no connection with any religion in India. Polygamy is an injustice to women
and must be banned completely in India. Also, law must be the primary religion for every
Indian citizen beyond any other religion they practice.6

Problems with polygamy

1. Polygamy exploits and commodifies men and women. In this case, Jacob was exploited
and commodified. He was prostituted by his own wife to his other wife. Jacob became an
object to gain. However, the situation here with Jacob is in one sense atypical. It’s atypical
in the fact that the man was the one exploited. In the typical polygamous culture, the women

6
Rajeesh Nair, Supreme Court Judgment Bans Polygamy in India Completely, http://womenpla.net/supreme-
court-judgment-bans-polygamy-in-india-completely/.

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are the ones exploited because there are never enough women to go around given that each
husband has multiple women. So, in a race to get a bride, women are married off to men at
younger ages. Furthermore, since the demand for a women is so high, brothers, fathers, and
husbands tend to control their women more.1 As one author stated, “Far from polygamy being
beneficial to women, it usually is anathema to women’s economic, social and emotional well-
being.”2

2. Polygamy is institutionalized adultery. They may all be called “wives” or “husbands,”


but what every single one of them is after that first marriage relationship is adultery. Jacob
had one wife (Leah) and three adulteresses (Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah). No, they weren’t
secret adulteresses. They were institutionalized adulteresses. The Bible clearly defines
marriage as one man and one woman. Any sexual relationship outside of that is adultery,
even if it’s not called that.

3 – Polygamy kills intimacy between husband and wife. Imagine the thought of knowing
that your spouse is in the next room having sex with someone else. In just a few nights, he or
she will be having sex with you. What does that do to intimacy? It stomps it to death. But,
intimacy is more than sex. It’s that trust of sharing everything about yourself with your
spouse that nobody else gets access to. It’s being able to give yourself to your spouse without
having to worry what somebody else is thinking or if you’re being fair to other people who
“deserve” your intimacy too. The emotional pretzels that polygamy pushes a person into
must be exhausting at the least, if not excruciating.

4. Polygamy spreads the husband or wife too thin. Technically, polygamy is the marrying
of more than one wife or husband. So, polygamy can be a wife with multiple husbands
(technically called polyandry) or a husband with multiple wives (technically called
polygyny). However, polyandry is almost nonexistent in the world. Polygyny is almost the
sole practice of polygamy, such that the two have become synonymous. Therefore, it is
typically a husband who gets spread too thin because he has to meet the needs of multiple
wives. It is difficult enough for a man to meet the needs of one woman, but imagine trying to
please multiples. It undoubtedly leads to great frustration or simply giving up trying any
more.

5. Polygamy causes jealousy among husbands or wives. God never intended for a wife to
share her husband with another woman or for a husband to share his wife with other men. He
has designed us in a way that to do so is emotionally and spiritually hurtful. God created a

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woman to long to be her husband’s sole desire, and when a “competitor” is brought into the
picture, jealousy naturally and rightly arises. Of course, it doesn’t often end with
jealousy. Jealousy, even righteous jealousy, is like a gateway drug. It often leads to great
sin, and we certainly see that with Rachel and Leah. Rachel and Leah both encourage Jacob
to go deeper into adultery (refer to #2) by convincing him to take their servants as his wives
also. Obviously, jealousy led to bitterness between the two women, evidenced by Leah’s
remarks to Rachel over the mandrakes. Jealousy also led to the ladies agreeing to prostitute
Jacob. Rachel sold, and Leah bought. Of course, jealousy leads to even greater sins than
these, like murder.

6. Polygamy falls short of God’s design in marriage. Jesus tells us clearly in Matthew
19:4-6 that God created male and female and joined them together in marriage as a one flesh
union to death. Polygamy falls short of that two becoming one flesh ideal. There’s no
oneness. There’s more a conglomeration of unions with typically the man as the hub. This
scenario is what we saw with Jacob and his wives. He’s connected to multiple women, but
there’s no connection between the women. Oneness isn’t even possible.

These six problems are located in the text of Genesis 30, but there are at least two others not
alluded to in the text.

7. Polygamy leaves numbers of unmarried men. Keeping in mind that the typical
polygamous situation is polygyny, a few men marry up all the women. Potential wives are
not infinite resources. There are only so many to go around. In fact, the boy to girl birth
ration is basically 1:1. Mathematically speaking, that means there is only one women for
each man. So, when one man ends up with four wives like in the case of Jacob, three men are
left likely to never marry. That reality is problematic for men and for society. Men who
don’t have wives or children to live for are much more prone to form harmful habits such as
substance abuse and to commit crimes of all sorts, including rape, theft, abduction, and
murder. China is a good example of what happens to societies where many men have no
opportunity to marry although China’s marriage gap is due to preferring male children under
a one-child-only government policy and has nothing to do with polygamy. 3 Nevertheless, the

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outcomes are the same because numbers of men are left unmarried. It’s bad news for the men
and the society around them.7

7
When One Wife Isn’t Enough: The Problems of Polygamy (October 12, 2015),
https://www.polygamy.com/articles/85705247/when-one-wife-isn-t-enough-the-problems-of-polygamy.

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Conclusion
Polygamy can affect serious emotional harm to one part of the marriage and the children.
Polygamy might be suitable in some countries and religions, but it should be banned
because it leads to many problems in a family life. Some people believe that problems will
not happen in a polygamous family if the husband can be fair in handling his two families’
life. Nevertheless, it must also be recognized that problems often happen in a polygamous
family because the husband cannot be fair when managing his two families’ life well at the
same time. There are many cases of conflict in a family that is because of the jealousy,
depressed, full of hatred, and envious among family members. There are some husbands who
consider that the most important person to be asked for permission before doing polygamy is
their wife and they also think that they do not need to ask permission to their children
because their children will be able to modify to the situation. On the other hand, not all
children can receive this kind of situation and if it happened, the children’s attitudes
development will be awful.8 There are some cases found about the children who run away
from their house because they are disappointed with their father who do polygamy. It may be
worse for the children in question, but if plural marriages lead to lots of asocial children
running about, this also may create a legitimate public interest in limiting it''. Banning
polygamy is the best way to protect a family. Polygamy does not only provide the bad effect
for the wives, but also the family. It can make conflict that brings out the divorce. Not only
that, polygamy gives the bad effect on your children’s attitudes. Therefore, polygamous
marriage is no a right thing to do. It causes more problems, woman and children do suffer
from it, so it should be prohibit.

Polygamy has never been successful in a free democratic country. It has been tried by several
communities back to the 1700s in the US, and they always fail in some critical way.
Polygamy tends to attract greedy men who take on more than they can handle and then they
depend on taxpayers to bail them out. We really don't want to encourage that. There are
roughly equal numbers of men and women, and every man who takes an extra wife creates a
man who can't find one. Excess unmarried men have little commitment to the society that
denies them a normal life and they turn to gangs and rebellions. At about 15% of the
population, they destabilize the government. It takes a while to build up the excess. You can
equalize numbers by marrying off younger and younger girls to older men. Child rape is a

8
Valya Telep, Discipline for Young Children - Discipline and Punishment: What is the Difference?,
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-111/350-111.html.

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common feature of polygamy. It is only successful in countries that suppress women rights,
because when women have a choice and a voice, they don't want to be some old goat's fifth
wife. Once you have excess uncommitted unmarried men, and women who have to be hidden
away, the economy can't work well enough to compete in the modern world. Look at what it
has done to most of the countries that allow it.9 There aren't any you want to move to. It
fosters abuse of women and neglect of children. Women are set up to have to compete with
each other for all the scarce resources - affection, time, money. Women are denied an equal
partnership in the marriage. They are almost always married to a much older man instead of
one of their own generation who understands life the way they do. Marriage is a critical
institution to any community. It allows people to take care of themselves without so much
government help, and it shouldn't be tampered with randomly. Monogamy works best and we
need to encourage everyone to get into it.

9
Nigel Barber Ph.D., The Three Reasons for Polygamy-Why the Obamas and the Romneys had multiple wives,
(Oct 23, 2012), https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201210/the-three-reasons-polygamy

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Bibliography
Books

Sites
 http://bigthink.com/dollars-and-sex/the-economics-of-monogamy-and-polygyny
 https://www.polygamy.com/articles/85705247/when-one-wife-isn-t-enough-the-
problems-of-polygamy
 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201210/the-three-reasons-
polygamy
 https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/350/350-111/350-111.html
 http://womenpla.net/supreme-court-judgment-bans-polygamy-in-india-completely/
 https://www.trocaire.org/sites/default/files/resources/policy/1-overview-report-
polygamy_0.pdf
 http://www.mcser.org/journal/index.php/mjss/article/viewFile/5179/4996
 http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/19573/7/19573%20AlSharfi%20Pfeffer%20Miller%20201
5.pdf

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