Short on time?

Get essay writing help

The Reasons Of Polygamy And Its Impact On Gender Relations

  • Words: 1302
  • |
  • Pages: 3
  • This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.
Download PDF

According to Anthropology, polygamy is well-defined as a marriage amongst one person and two or more spouses at the same time. This occurs in two main forms: polygyny, in which a man marries several women, and polyandry, in which a woman marries several men at the same time (Welsch, 2018). Polygyny is known as the most common form as well as the forms in which one is officially loyal but socially polygamous and maintains other relationships. Globally, polygamy is legally practiced in many countries around the world such as Asia, Middle East and Africa, but it is not practiced by all. In this essay, I will mainly focus on my topic, polygyny, the marriage of one man to serval women at one time. There are serval factors that can lead to polygyny in many countries around the world. I will discuss the factors that cause polygamy which include social, cultural beliefs and religious factors secondly, I will discuss the impact of polygyny on gender that leads gender discrimination and the negative psychological and physical effects on women.

Polygamy has a long history and is a common phenomenon around the world. The reason for its occurrence is cultural beliefs, religion, divorce and fertility. In most African country’s polygamy is regulated and recognized by the civil law which permits a man to have many wives under certain conditions such as financial measurements to sustenance several wives and families (Hayase 1997). On the other hand, this practice is common because of religious beliefs in Asia. But, to a certain extent, the practice of marriage in North America and Europe is considered illegal. Cultural beliefs have a great impact on people’s attitudes and perceptions. In this respect, attitudes created by cultures play an important role in encouraging multiplicity. For example, in North Africa polygyny is supported by Islam and Jewish religion and in most African countries as mentioned earlier, this practice is seen as a social practice that guarantees family continuity from generation to generation (Benjamin,2008). Women’s accountability for childbearing diminishes, and childless women are treated with humiliation.

Cultural practices such as spouse inheritance have greatly contributed to the multiplicity of marriages in African society. Social practices such as spouse inheritance have greatly contributed to the multiplicity of marriages in African culture. Men are forced to marry widows or women who are left unprotected after the death of their partners or protector. It was also thought of as a way of protecting orphans left after their fathers are died (Moosa, 2008). Polygyny is also a common practice in Asia, Middle East. It is usually official because of Islamic beliefs, as in the Middle East, Islam is a dominant religion. According to Islamic culture, a man is allowed to marry up to four wives at the same time if he is economically sustainable to support each of her family (Al-Krenawi 2008). However, there are other factors that contribute to communities to adopt polygyny. Cheney (2008) states that in many African society’s women are afraid about divorce, infertility, legality and the ways women observe polygyny contributes to polygyny in many countries. Understanding African women with polygyny help them to accept this practice because these women find that their husband’s co-wife can help them with the household chores and it easy to share responsibilities and children. Attitudes and perception about polygyny are mostly shaped by cultural beliefs and in this respect, attitudes that are created by culture plays an important role in inspiring polygyny (Asare 1997). Research by Anarfi (1997) on Ghanaian women has shown that most women accept co-wives as postpartum abstinence. Most wealthy women accept wives. Women evaluate the multiplicity of marriages positively. In their view, this will ensure that their husbands continue their sexual activities while a spouse is still in the postpartum period.

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

In Sub-Sahara Africa, fertility plays an important role in promoting polygyny. It is perceived by the society that if a woman is not capable of giving birth, she has to be divorced because children are extremely important in Africa and women to have to bear children to gain a position in their marriage and get acknowledged by their husband in order for the husband to share wealth with her (Tabi, 2010). It is believed that children play an important role in keeping their parents’ bonds together. Therefore, infertile women have to accept co-wives because of fear of divorce. This helps polygyny communities in many parts of the world (Cheney 2010). According to Jeenah (2008), social arrogances towards single women or unmarried women also is a key role that encourages women to enter polygamous relationships. Women who are single or divorced are seen as a low social status in polygyny communities. It is also embarrassing for families and communities if one remains single for unknown reasons. The rage with single women leads them into a polygamy culture to escape shame and social pressure.

Impacts of this practice on gender relations

For centuries, the issue of gender has been an important issue not only in America but in other parts of the world. In fact, gender concerns have played a major role in rejecting polygamy in the United States. However, while attempting to understand how marriages multiply on rights and gender equality, analyzing the context of gender rights in different cultures is equally important. According to Velopp (2001), he states that western countries learned from third-world courtiers to advocate for gender rights along with the similar deceptive fanatism of western countries to rationalize discrimination against third world countries. She further states that western nations defend the argument of gender inequality to allow western cultures to gloss over the gender domination that is in their nations (Velopp, 2001). Most contemporary societies are discriminating against women.

Polygamy imposes strict laws on women. Women have to put up with religious, cultural, and family pressures to drop job and education opportunities. This forces them to get married as the only option to achieve financial stability. Religious and cultural beliefs require them to obey their spouse, regardless of circumstances, to avoid divorce. On the other hand, the neglect and abuse of the rights of the child are enormous. Many communities try to empower boys and marry young girls. It maintains gender inequality in society. In accumulation, the above ethical question about polygamy, there are widespread prejudice and gender discrimination in polygamy societies. Such societies know that a man’s gender can marry more than one spouse. They deny women having multiple partners. After all, they are not allowed to have same-sex marriages (Strauss, 2012). The ethical question of why allowing men to have multiple partners and to deny women the same right is ethically correct. Strauss further observes that contemporary multilingual societies promote sexist culture. In addition, power relations hierarchically constrain innovation and individual independence, which significantly reduces poverty. Strauss’s observations about a society that allows girls to marry instead of seeking different opportunities are strong grounds. It is morally wrong to force underage girls into early marriages. Marriage must be with the consent of the parties involved. Minority girls in multilingual societies are deprived of the right to choose the right age for them (Wall, 2003).


  1. ‘THE VARIABLE IMPACT OF MORMON POLYGYNY ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN.’ The Polygamy Question. Boulder, Colorado: Utah State UP, 2016. 62. Web
  2. Chamie, J. ‘Polygyny among Arabs.’ Population Studies 40.1 (1986): 2; 55-; 66. Web.
  3. ibbs, Tyson, and Judith Campbell. ‘Practicing Polygyny in Black America: Challenging
  4. Definition, Legal and Social Considerations for the African American Community.’
  5. Western Journal of Black Studies 23.3 (1999): 144-53. Web
  6. Moosa, M. Y. H., Benjamin, R., & Jeenah, F. Y. (2008). A review of multi-spousal relationships-psychosocial effects and therapy. South African Journal of Psychiatry, 12(2), 12-1
  7. Strauss, G. (2012). Is Polygamy Inherently Unequal? Ethics, 122(3), 516-544.
  8. 7. Welsch, Robert L. ‘Polygyny.’ A Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology (2018): A Dictionary of Cultural Anthropology. Web.
  9. Volpp, L. (2001). Feminism and Multiculturalism. Columbia Law Review, 101(5), 1181-1218.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

The Reasons Of Polygamy And Its Impact On Gender Relations. (2021, September 23). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from
“The Reasons Of Polygamy And Its Impact On Gender Relations.” Edubirdie, 23 Sept. 2021,
The Reasons Of Polygamy And Its Impact On Gender Relations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Oct. 2022].
The Reasons Of Polygamy And Its Impact On Gender Relations [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 23 [cited 2022 Oct 3]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.