Skip to main content

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.
The latest figures of polygamy, released by the third National Family Health Survey (NFHS), carried out in 2006, also show that two per cent women reported that their husbands had more than one wife. It found that polygamy was prevalent among 1.77 per cent Hindus, down from 5.8 per cent in 1961.
The 1961 figures – based on Census of India data – also show that among tribals it was then widely prevalent: 15.25 of them were polygamous.
Crucially, while the Hindu personal law outlaws bigamy and polygamy, the Muslim personal law does not. AIMPLB said in an affidavit to the Supreme Court, "Quran, Hadith and the consensus view allow Muslim men to have up to four wives", adding, while Islam permits polygamy, it does not encourage it.”
"Since polygamy is endorsed by primary Islamic sources, it cannot be dubbed as something prohibited. Where women outnumber men and polygamy is not permitted, women will be forced into leading spinster's life”, AIMPLB said.
Contrary to the AIMPLB, the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has said, the Muslim community needs to have a law against polygamy, to move towards a society that treats women with dignity and equality. But BMMA also said, “We don't imagine that just passing the laws mean things will change. At the end of the day, there is no substitute for proper grassroots activism.”
A paper based on NFHS data on the subject said, “In modern times, a person is bound by the marriage laws laid down by their religion and have to be adhered to and any deviation from the norms are considered to be illegal. Until recently, no scientific data also was available at the national or regional level to assess whether polygamy is still practiced or is non-existent.”
It added, “For the first time data required to study and understand such marriage practices was collected as part of the 2005-06 NFHS. Data was collected from both women and men – women were asked a direct question whether besides herself, her husband had other wives and men were asked if they currently have one wife or more than one wife.”
The paper said, “Preliminary analysis of this data reveals some interesting findings on this aspect of marriage. In India as a whole, two percent of women reported that their husband had other wives besides herself. Urban-rural differentials are marginal (1.5% in urban areas and 2% in rural areas).
“Husbands older than women, women with less education are more likely to have multiple wives than husband’s of younger women and women with higher levels of education. Spouses of women age less than 30 have about 1.35 partners whereas husband’s of women age 30 or more have 2.22 to 2.51 partners”, the paper said.
It added, “One interesting finding is that women across religious groups – Hindu (1.77 partners), Muslim (2.55 partners), Christian (2.35 partners), Buddhist (3.41 partners) have reported that their husbands have multiple wives. It is more common for husbands of women belonging to scheduled castes and tribes to have multiple wives than women belonging to other caste/tribe groups.”
“Differentials in this characteristic are not only by background characteristics of the women but also a clear regional variation emerges from the findings of the survey”, the paper said, adding, “Polygamy is more prevalent in the Eastern (2.11 partners), Northeastern (3.20 partners) and Southern (3.02 partners) regions.”
It further said, “In the northern and central regions, it is non-existent as the women from these regions have reported their husbands to be having only one partner on an average.”
“The general thought in India is that marriage is practiced mainly for progeny, i.e., to have children to continue the lineage. Also, we need to understand marriage practices in the context of strong son preference that exist in most parts of India”, the paper said.
It added, “The data clearly shows that husband’s of women with no children are more likely to have multiple wives (2.51 partners) than women who have at least one child (1.80 partners).”

Comments

There is an anecdote about understanding. A professor was taking a biology class. It was about dissection of a frog. The prof cut one leg of the frog and said 'jump'. The frog managed to jump on its three legs. Then two and then one. After cuttings its fourth leg when the prof said jump it couldn't. He asked the students what they understood and one of them promptly replied 'if all four legs of a frog are cut then the frog will not be able to hear'!

I am reminded of this anecdote on reading the following parts of this report.

“In the northern and central regions, it is non-existent as the women from these regions have reported their husbands to be having only one partner on an average.”

“Husbands older than women, women with less education are more likely to have multiple wives than husband’s of younger women and women with higher levels of education...'

It is similar statistics that say that the literacy levels in northern and central regions are very poor. So how does the first part linking literacy to polygamy compare with the second part?
This report also highlights the following facts:

1. The law is an ass. It has no business to permit polygamy amoung muslims when banning it for others.

2. The people are not asses. They do not take such biased laws seriously.

3. The law enforcers are asses as they are seen unable to enforce the laws!

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Anti-CAA: Mallika Sarabhai joins students, faculty to protest dy CM's 'divisive' talk

By Our Representative
Taking strong exception to deputy chief minister Nitin Patel’s statement against those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC), well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai has joined tens of activists and students and faculty of Gujarat University, CEPT University, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad, Gujarat Vidyapeeth and Nirma University to say that they are seeking “azadi” from the fascist and communal forces of the country.

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.