Western countries are accommodating multiple wives
Posted by Judy K. Warner on March 3, 2008
David Rusin of Pajamas Media has an informative overview with the excellent title, Take My Wives Please: Polygamy Heads West. He reports:
Recent evidence, however, indicates that governments tend to look the other way as the conjugal mores of seventh-century Arabia — and the problems that travel with them — take root in our backyards….
The prevalence of polygamy among Muslims living in the West remains a matter of debate. Here is a sampling of what has been reported: As many as thirty thousand Muslim families in France include more than one wife. There are fifteen thousand in Italy and several thousand in Great Britain. Estimates for the United States typically run into the tens of thousands. Even Australia has been forced to crack down on Muslim men looking to meet potential second wives via the internet.
The reason this barbaric practice has been able to establish itself in ostensibly civilized countries is twofold: Officals look the other way, and Muslims engage in deceptive practices to cover it up. A year ago the New York Times reported on a house fire in Brooklyn, during which it was discovered that a man from Mali had two separate families living a floor apart. The Times investigated and found that polygamy was an “open secret” in that community and that the agencies that served it had a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
As for deception by the practitioners,
Some Muslim men with additional wives living abroad arrange for relatives to sponsor visas that can bring them to the West without raising red flags. Others find second, third, or even fourth wives locally, sealing the deal in a nikah ceremony conducted by an imam. Because such marriages are performed under the state’s radar and have no legal standing, the wives enjoy none of the rights guaranteed to spousal partners.
Why are we accomodating polygamy? Here’s an indication of one reason:
Concern about Islamic polygamy — whether in the West or East — has naturally been dismissed in some quarters as cultural imperialism. For example, Duke University professor Miriam Cooke argues that “polygamy can be liberating and empowering.” As Kay Hymowitz explains in City Journal, “Some women, [Cooke] continued, are relieved when their husbands take a new wife: they won’t have to service him so often. Or they might find they now have the freedom to take a lover. But, I ask, wouldn’t that be dangerous in places where adulteresses can be stoned to death? At any rate, how common is that? ‘I don’t know,’ Cooke answers, ‘I’m interested in discourse.’”
Yup, it’s that old cultural imperialism raising its ugly head again. Polygamy would be loudly denounced by feminists if their husbands or partners tried it, but it’s just fine for second-class Muslim women.
Britain and Canada have begun giving welfare to the other wives in polygamous marriages. Both countries require the marriages to be legal and valid in Muslim countries. This is official government recognition of the institution of polygamy within their borders.
There are many reasons to keep polygamy illegal and unrecognized in civilized countries. It sanctions and codifies inequality. It undermines our legal system and our values. It is a foot in the door for Islamic Sharia law. And socially,
Nonie Darwish and Phyllis Chesler have noted that polygamy, when combined with other misogynistic provisions of sharia, breeds societal dysfunction. Plural unions not only inspire distrust between spouses and heightened competition among offspring. Children also learn from an early age that females are unworthy of exclusive affection and therefore hold less value than males. Moreover, if common, polygamy creates legions of unhappily unmarried young men who are ripe for radicalization.
Not all countries are as supine as Britain and Canada.
A few European nations have already enacted policies designed to combat polygamous unions. The Telegraph reported in 2004 that Ireland “has ordered all men from Islamic countries seeking residency to sign a sworn affidavit rejecting polygamy. … A man must swear he has ‘one spouse only’ and ‘has no intention of entering into a simultaneous marriage.’” Likewise, the Italian interior ministry has asked Muslim groups to agree to a “values charter” that promotes monogamous families and the equality of women.
Rusin’s conclusion is short and to the point:
Simply put, the choice is ours: defend a hard-won heritage of freedom and equality, or continue slouching toward sharia. Pray that we choose wisely.
I recommend reading the whole article. Also, Ann’s post of last month on polygamy in the United States. And many thanks to Infinicat for the tip.
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