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South Africa needs to legalize polyandry. Here are the reasons why (OPINION)


South Africa already has one of the world's most liberal constitutions, allowing gay and lesbian marriages for all and polygamy for men. Now, in a bid to make the institution of marriage more inclusive, the legalisation of polyandry was put forward in a green paper published by the Department of Home Affairs.

I don't see anything wrong with polyandry. If men are allowed to tie the knot with more than one woman, women too have to be allowed to take more than one man.

Although largely uncommon in Nigeria, there are tribes in Nigeria that also allows polyandry. Among the Irigwe of Northern Nigeria, women have traditionally acquired numerous spouses called “co-husbands”. The Irigwe people of Nigeria practiced a woman having co-husbands until their council voted to outlaw it in 1968.

Despite the presence of polygyny, the legalisation of polyandry is a polarising debate in South Africa, particularly on social media. Gender equality activists, whilst not all in favour of polygamous marriages, mainly support the legalisation of polyandry in order to equalise the country’s biased marriage laws. Meanwhile, predominantly-male conservatives are staunchly against legalising polyandry, wanting to maintain polygamy as a practice exclusively for men.



The benefits of polyandry can be categorised into those that increase a female's fitness directly and those that do so indirectly. The most obvious direct benefit is the acquisition of sufficient sperm to fertilise all of a female's ova.

Some females willingly choose polygyny in order to gain access to the "best" resources available. In these cases, the benefits from superior resource access must outweigh the opportunity cost of giving up monogamous parental care by a male.


Advantages of Polyandry

1) Population is under control.

2) Financial burden distributed among husbands.

3) Joint family become strengthened.


Disadvantages of Polyandry

1) Firstly, polyandry may lead to extra-marital relation, as all the husbands will not be satisfied by a wife.

2) Secondly, a woman has to satisfy the intimacy urge of several husbands that may have serious effect on her health.

3) Thirdly, the woman may suffer several general diseases.



What do you think about polyandry? Should it be treated like polygamy? Or people should just mind their own businesses?

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Irigwe Nigeria Northern Nigeria South Africa

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