De­crease of Polygamy is no­tice­able in Kur­dis­tan

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

Of­fi­cial statis­tics show that through­out Kur­dis­tan re­gion only 53 men mar­ried a sec­ond wife in 2012. In a press con­fer­ence held in Er­bil two weeks ago, Judge Di­yar Hameed, the of­fi­cial spokesman of the jus­tice High com­mit­tee said, “This num­ber in 2012 com­pared to pre­vi­ous years has de­creased to a great de­gree. Peo­ple are re­stricted nowa­days to get mar­ried with a sec­ond wife, and in or­der to do that they need to have per­mis­sion from their first wife”.

Polygamy has been a con­tentious sub­ject for a long time in Kur­dis­tan, but it of­fi­cially sur­faced pub­licly in 2008 when it was dealt with by the Kur­dis­tan Government, me­dia and Kur­dish Par­lia­ment. Many at­tempts were made by women or­ga­ni­za­tions to abol­ish polygamy in Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Protests by women were brought to Par­lia­ment, and a draft law was is­sued call­ing for the amend­ment of the per­sonal sta­tus law as a whole.

The heated dis­cus­sions led to Par­lia­ment post­pon­ing the re­view­ing and de­ci­sion on that draft law, where the dis­cus­sions high­lighted three dif­fer­ent opin­ions. The first called for plac­ing re­stric­tions on polygamy; the sec­ond de­manded its abol­ish­ment, while the third opin­ion be­lieved that such a right should not be in­ter­fered with, and that it was granted by God to men.

Is­lam per­mits polygamy, given the con­di­tion that the mar­riage is done in an hon­or­able and just way. A Mus­lim man can marry up to four wives, but if he feels that he might do in­jus­tice to any of his wives in a polyg­a­mous mar­riage, then he should marry one woman only.

Some Mus­lim ma­jor­ity coun­tries have ap­plied laws prevent­ing polygamy, such as Turkey, Bos­nia, Azer­bai­jan and Tu­nisia. Mean­while in places like Libya and Morocco, a writ­ten per­mis­sion from the first wife is nec­es­sary prior to mar­ry­ing an­other woman.

In 2008, an amend­ment to the 1959 Iraqi Per­sonal Sta­tus Law was passed by the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) of North­ern Iraq. Up un­til the pass­ing of this amend­ment, a man had the free­dom to marry up to four women. Ac­cord­ing to the new amend­ment, men are now lim­ited to mar­ry­ing a max­i­mum of two women, and not four. He can only take the sec­ond wife if his first wife is un­able to have chil­dren or suf­fers from a disease. Men who vi­o­late th­ese re­stric­tions will ei­ther serve six months in prison or pay a fine of 10 Mil­lion Iraqi Di­nars.

Based on the sta­tis­ti­cal data re­leased by Judge Hameed, in gen­eral 56,000 nor­mal mar­riage cases have been recorded in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and Gramiyan area in 2012. 20,275 of the cases were from Er­bil, 15,917 from Suleimaniya, 13,849 from Duhok, and 5,961 from Garmiyan area.

Although there were many ap­pli­ca­tions to get mar­ried for the sec­ond time, only 53 peo­ple were per­mit­ted to take a sec­ond wife. Within this num­ber, 21 men were from Er­bil, 18 from Suleimaniya, and 14 from Duhok. The law has been dif­fi­cult to en­force within Kur­dis­tan re­gion be­cause Kurds who are ea­ger to take a sec­ond wife have found a way to by­pass it. Some travel to South and Mid­dle parts of Iraq where hav­ing a sec­ond wife is still le­gal.

So­ci­ol­o­gists, and peo­ple in gen­eral have dif­fer­ing opin­ions re­gard­ing polygamy. Some be­lieve that it is a thing of the past that served its pur­pose dur­ing a spec­i­fied time where men were killed in bat­tle, and women were left be­hind. "Polygamy is about to be com­pletely abol­ished in the re­gion. This is partly be­cause of the in­flu­ence of the amended law on one hand. On the other hand peo­ple have re­signed them­selves to the fact that a fam­ily con­sist­ing of a hus­band and two or more wives can never live hap­pily and suc­cess­fully," said Shivan Is­mail, So­ci­ol­ogy in­struc­tor in Sala­haddin Univer­sity's Arts Col­lege.

There are many oth­ers who think that men should be al­lowed to take sec- ond wife be­cause a large num­ber of Kur­dish men are mi­grat­ing to Euro­pean coun­tries and have left the Kur­dis­tan re­gion with a short­age of men com­pared to women. "Women aren't com­pletely in­de­pen­dent in this so­ci­ety. There are a lot of women whose suit­ors are only mar­ried men. In this sit­u­a­tion, it is bet­ter for the women to marry with mar­ried men than to stay sin­gle." Noted Sher­wan Kazim, a so­ci­ol­o­gist.

This pic­ture shows a Kur­dish man ex­change rings with his partener.

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