The South African government’s proposal to legalize polyandry (if a woman has multiple husbands at the same time) has led to howling protests from conservative districts.
This does not surprise Professor Corris Machoco, a well-known scholar on this topic.
He told the BBC that the objection was “about control.” “African societies are not ready for true equality. We don’t know what to do with women we can’t control.”
South Africa is one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, with all people adopting same-sex marriage and men adopting polygamy.
Among those who oppose polyandry is the businessman and television personality Musa Muserek (who has four wives).
“This will destroy African culture. What about the children of those people? How do they know their identities?” Mseleku, who starred in a South African reality show, told a polygamy family. Ask about.
“Women can no longer play the role of men. It’s unheard of. Will women pay Robora now? [bride price] For a man. Is a man expected to take her name? “
Professor Machoco studied polyandry in his hometown of Zimbabwe. He spoke with 20 women and 45 co-husbands who practiced such marriages, even though they were socially taboo and not legally permitted.
“Polyandry is being driven underground because it is shunned by parts of society. The secrets are similar to those found in Freemasons,” he said.
“When they face someone they don’t trust or don’t know, they even deny the existence of such a marriage, all because of the fear of retaliation and persecution.”
All the participants in Professor Machiko’s research lived separately, but were devoted to a polyandry union and were open about it among them.
“One wife cultivated the idea of becoming a polyandry woman when she was in sixth grade. [aged around 12 years] After learning how the queen bee of the hive accepts many bee co-husbands, “said the professor.
When she grew up, she started having sex with multiple partners who knew each other.
“Four of her current nine co-husbands were in that first group of boyfriends.”
In polyandry, women often start relationships and encourage their husbands to join her union. Some pay for the bride, while others choose to contribute to her livelihood. She has the power to get rid of her co-husband if she believes he is destabilizing her other relationships.
Professor Machiko said love was the main reason he said the interviewed man agreed to become a co-husband. They didn’t want to risk losing their wife.
Some men also noted the fact that they did not sexually satisfy their wives, agreeing with their co-husband’s proposal to avoid divorce and infidelity.
Another reason was infertility. Some men agreed that the wife would take another husband to give birth. In this way, men avoided being accused of “saving their faces” and “castrated” in public.
Upset of the priest
Professor Machoco said he was unaware of the polyandry marriage in South Africa. Nevertheless, the law now allows men to bring multiple wives, so gender rights activists are governmenting to legalize such unions for the benefit of equality and choice. Requested to.
Their proposal was in a document (formally known as Green Paper) released for public comments by the government, which undertook the largest review of marriage law since the end of white minority rule in 1994. It contains.
“It’s important to remember that this green paper supports human rights and we can’t lose sight of it,” said the Women’s Legal Center, a law firm that fights for women’s rights. Defender Shirley May said.
“Law amendments cannot be rejected because they disagree with the views of certain patriarchies in our society.”
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The document also proposes to legally allow marriage of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Rastafarians.
This was greatly welcomed by the communities involved, but the proposal to legalize polyandry was criticized by clergy holding parliamentary seats.
Pastor Kenneth Meshoe, the leader of the opposition African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), said it would “destroy society.”
“It’s time for one of the men to say,’You spend most of your time with that man, not me-and there will be a conflict between the two men,” he added.
“When a child is born, we can imagine that more DNA tests will be needed to find out who the father is,” said Ganiev Hendrix, leader of the Islamic Al Jama-ah party. Said.
As for Mseleku, he urged South Africans not to “excess” the principle of equality.
“Just because something is included in the Constitution does not mean that it is good for us.”
Asked why it’s different for women, given that he had four wives, he said, “I’ve been called a hypocrite because of my marriage, but I’d rather talk now than shut up.
“It can be said that this is a non-African. We cannot change who we are.”
However, Professor Machoco said polyandry was once practiced in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Nigeria, as well as in Gabon, which is permitted by law.
“With the advent of Christianity and colonization, the role of women has diminished. They were no longer equal. Marriage has become one of the tools used to establish a hierarchy.”
Professor Machoco said concerns about children born from polyandry unions are rooted in patriarchy.
“Children’s problems are simple. The children born of the union are the children of the family.”