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!
Anonymous said…
Continuous debates are being held about Polygamy In Islam, saying that Muslims can Mary more than one wife deliberately. Actually what Quran says regarding this is, in Sura an-Nisa Chapter 4 Verse 3, Indirectly Islam discourages men to marry multiple wives as it is clearly mentioned if you can do justice to all, only then it is allowed

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Despite crisis, Modi's Hindutva strategy 'increased' mass base in society and polity

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Narendra Modi and his RSS brethren can qualify as masters of fake claims. There is a long lists of lies spread by RSS, BJP and their IT cell workers. It is not a personality disorder or lying with fear. They are trained to defend Modi and his government’s decisions in whatever possible way. They defended demonetisation by arguing that it is “an important step” in his fight against black money and corruption.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”