Polygamy, a practice banned in many countries due to its detrimental impact on women’s dignity, remains a complex issue with global variations.
High rates of polygamous marriages are particularly prevalent in West and Central Africa.
Burkina Faso, Mali, and Gambia stand out as hotspots for this tradition.
However, polygamy’s prevalence also varies depending on religious affiliation, with a significant presence among Muslims and followers of folk religions.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee strongly condemned polygamy.
Asserting that it violates the dignity of women, and has called for its complete abolition wherever it persists.
Yet, the enforcement of these bans often faces challenges, as many countries have a decentralized approach to marriage regulations.
Religion and polygamy
In numerous regions, marriages are governed by religious or customary laws.
Effectively placing oversight in the hands of clerics or community leaders.
This decentralized approach complicates efforts to eradicate polygamy and protect women’s rights.
Recent data sheds light on the persisting prevalence of polygamy in West and Central Africa, where it remains legally permissible.
The highest concentration of individuals living in polygamous households is found in various countries.
For instance: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Gambia highlight the deep-rooted nature of this practice in these regions.
Religion is a major factor
Furthermore, the prevalence of polygamy often aligns with religious beliefs.
Muslims in Africa are more likely to engage in polygamous marriages compared to Christians.
A stark difference in the percentages (25% versus 3%).
However, it is essential to note that the practice is not solely confined to religious boundaries.
In some countries, adherents of folk religions and even those who do not identify with any religion also partake in polygamous unions.
In conclusion, the persistence of polygamy in various parts of the world, particularly in West and Central Africa, raises complex challenges.