‘Many young people oppose polygamy’

Updated 26 October 2015
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‘Many young people oppose polygamy’

JEDDAH: Although polygamy is a common practice in Saudi Arabia, several young people interviewed by Arab News are opposed to it and believe that less people are entering into these unions.
Huma Sayeed, 27, argued that some women are marrying men with other wives because they are afraid of not finding husbands, particularly with the rising number of unmarried women in the Kingdom.
In addition, several women have complained that they cannot stop their husbands from marrying other women, even if they clearly state their opposition to it, she said.
Sayeed claimed that women have become more vocal in their opposition to polygamy. The fact that they do not want to share their husbands with other women has been a major contributing factor to the decline in the practice, she said.
Sayeed said she believed polygamous relationships cause emotional distress and many other problems in families.
Many of those interviewed said that they are not opposed to polygamy but it appears that men with multiple wives are unable to treat them equally as stipulated in the Qur’an.
They said men are not marrying several times these days because they simply cannot afford to do so considering the rising cost of living in the Kingdom.
Mohammed Jibrael, 30, said: “It used to be common practice in the past and many men married several times to have more kids that could support them financially. But these days, with the stress of daily life and the rising cost of living, marrying multiple wives is like looking for problems in your life.”
Jibrael said that while polygamy is still being practiced, many people are avoiding it because multiple separate households place additional emotional and financial stress on families.
Ahmed R., 25, said that these types of marriages are not for everyone. His father was married twice and struggled to keep both his wives happy. “My mother was his second wife, and whenever he used to do anything for my mom his first wife used to make him feel guilty for marrying again, and would argue over minor issues,” he said.
“In the end, he divorced my mother because he could not manage both of them.” He said men who marry many times often cannot provide equal care and time for each wife. There was also a risk of picking up diseases, he said.
Several young people interviewed said that it was fashionable in the past to marry many times and have lots of children. However, people were no longer doing so these days, they said.
Sohail, who lives in Jeddah, said young people do not want to add any further complications to their lives such as having large families that could be financially problematic. According to a study conducted in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which was presented at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2015 in Abu Dhabi, men who practiced polygamy have an increased risk of heart disease.