Kurdistan: Polygamy: a violation of women's rights

The Kurdish Globe
Op-Ed: "Social ills are being created by the practice of multiple marriages."
Second wives are often given the short end of the deal when they enter into a polygamist marriage outside of the court.
Judge Ahmad Hassan of the Duhok Personal Status Court said that growing rejection of the certification of second wives in Duhok courts has forced men to appeal to courts outside of Duhok, especially in Mosul. And polygamy is increasingly responsible for many social problems.

"The number of men seeking to register names of their second wives in Duhok court has decreased after we legally rejected it on the grounds that these men don't have enough money and it is out of the rules of the court," said Judge Hassan. "The court registered 46 cases of polygamy in 2006, 56 cases in 2007, and 29 cases up to July 2008.

"According to the personal status law, Article 3, Passage 4, polygamy is not allowed except when the husband offers a financial bail or when there is legitimate interest in the marriage."

S'hood Misto, court attorney in the town of Sumeil, stated: "Polygamy has created many social problems, including divorce. And because most judges reject registering the names of the second wives, in many cases the men have started to register the names of their children under the names of their first wives; this creates never-ending family problems."

But women who choose to become second wives hold differing viewpoints.

"I may not be like the others; but any woman who accepts becoming a second wife has to think deeply [first]. Thus, I conditioned to enter into a legal marriage with my husband in court with the guarantee of all my future kids' rights," said Shireen Hassan, 38, the second wife of a 53-year-old man. "It is true that circumstances forced me to marry a married man, but the courts should facilitate [such marriages], especially when the first wife shows content."

Being a second wife led to a failed marriage for Zeinab Aba Bakir Sidiq, 41, whose bond was signed traditionally outside of court. "Sometimes circumstances force women to get married out of court; often men exploit the woman who accepts to become a second wife and her rights are violated."

Sidiq said she had problems until she was able to gain the rights of her children and then ask for a divorce. "All of us should stand against polygamy, because most men are not interested in giving the second wife rights."

Sebil Sidiq, a women's rights activist and head of relations for the Organization of Civil Rights in Duhok, stated: "Although, there are many unmarried women in Duhok, it doesn't mean that polygamy is the solution, even though it is allowed according to the Islamic legislation."

Sidiq said that women have rights on their own anyhow, and that all sides must work to solve problems caused by polygamy. Women should think about their rights first when they register to marry in court, she added.

By: Khidhr Domle

28 August 2008

Source: The Kurdish Globe