Polygamy remains one of the most hotly contested and misunderstood topics in modern society.
However, it is outlawed in the Western world.
Cultural and religious factors anchor this practice.
Different studies carried out for decades reveal that the practice has far-reaching negative consequences, and hence should be outlawed.
On the other hand, the proponents of polygamy argue there are many benefits associated with the practice. However, the moral question of polygamy has not been addressed adequately.
The first social effect of this practice is the perceived competition among co-wives.
Competition among wives for common resources is likely to cause conflict that largely affects society’s stability.
Polygamous marriages are a burden to men and their wives.
A man is deprived in mind and body due to the heavy responsibility of sustaining a big family. In addition, men spend most of their income on marrying new wives.
Consequently, women are deprived psychologically as a result of being reduced to instruments of physical pleasure.
This results in child negligence in that children are less supported by their parents.
In the end, society bears the consequences of the problems associated with a lack of education and the proper parenting of children.
One of the impacts of polygamy is the scarcity of women. Polygymy denies young and low-status men women because older, wealthier men hoard as many women as possible.
For men to marry these women, they have to gain resources, considering the perception that wealth attracts women.
Marriage provides a foundation upon which a society is built (Waller, 2011; McLaren & Coward, 1999). However, polygamy cultivates patriarchal principles which drag the whole society into despotism.
In addition, patriarchal principles destroy the societal fabric since it is more injurious to women and children (McLaren & Coward, 1999).
Polygamy proponents argue that the legal recognition of the practice would change the negative perceptions associated with it.
They also argue that the legalisation of polygamy would help the prosecution of cases related to it effectively (Duncan, 2008).
Proponents argue that polygamy is thought to reduce prostitution.
Women are less economically empowered than men. In a society where poverty is prevalent, women prefer getting married in order to share resources with their husbands.
Considering there are more women than men in many societies, some women may miss the opportunity to get married and end up as prostitutes.
On top of this, having more than one wife reduces a man’s sexual exploration outside marriage, thereby limiting the level of adultery in society.
According to Duncan (2008), polygamy reduces the number of fatherless and motherless children. In addition, polygamy unites more than three families within a community.
It enhances cooperation between individual families, hence improving social integration. In the end the bonds created through polygamy promote social harmony.
The positives, however, are by far outweighed by the negatives.
Polygamy actually promotes inequality.
The consequences are permanent and devastating. The injuries to the society, such as increased crime, a sexist culture, and substance abuse as a result of polygamy are destructive.
Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –