The South African government is considering a proposal to allow polygamy among women, otherwise known as polyandry as a way of promoting equality.
South Africa already recognizes polygyny, a form of polygamy in which a man has more than one wife.
In a move to promote gender equality, the Department of Home Affairs is pushing for the legal recognition of polyandry as a form of marriage and has already published a landmark policy document to that effect.
The Green Paper by the Department of Home Affairs terms the current Marriage Act as discriminatory.
Home Affairs has published a green paper on new amendments to the Marriage Act. One of the proposals is the recognition of polyandry. This would allow women to marry more than one man at the same time. The public has until the end of June to comment. #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/QuTbEI3zkk
— eNCA (@eNCA) May 12, 2021
Elizabeth Retief, a member of the South Africa Polyamory social and support group, has lauded the proposal terming it a step in the right direction.
“Any step in the direction of breaking away from this very strong idea that monogamy is the only way to have a relationship is a step in the right direction,” Elizabeth Retief.
A green paper published by the Department of Home Affairs proposes that women be allowed to marry more than one partner. For more on the implications of the paper, @LifeWithThami chats to Sihle Mthiyane and Elizabeth Retief.
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) May 12, 2021
Religious groups have however slammed the proposal with some Political parties which draw their support from religious voters threatening to support protests against the proposal.
The Muslim Judicial Council’s spokesperson Muneer Abdouroaf said:
“As the Muslim community we are in favour of a bill that recognizes polygyny where a husband is allowed to have two or more wives up to a maximum of four.
“However as far as polyandry is concerned, it is something which is foreign to Islamic law and therefore we are not in support of that type of provision in the Bill.”
The ACDP does not and will not support the legalisation of polyandry in SA.
– we note that traditional leaders and the Muslim Judicial Council agree with us.
– and that the DA supports the legalisation of polyandry – no surprise there.https://t.co/6bjhZGGzJV https://t.co/jQUIXC9Ukd
— ACDP South Africa (@A_C_D_P) May 13, 2021
It remains to be seen how far the proposal will go and how successful polyandry will turn out to be if its adopted by the Southern African nation.