Polygamy crackdown in Uzbekistan

family law

The government of Uzbekistan has announced plans to crack down on the practice of polygamy in the former Soviet republic.

Lawmakers in the Central Asian nation have drafted a bill which would punish mullahs and imams who perform religious wedding ceremonies for people who are already married to someone else. Although polygamy is illegal in Uzbekistan, the practice is still popular among the Muslims in the country who make up around 79 per cent of the population.  Parts of the Quran permit men to have more than one wife but do not allow women to take more than one husband. Therefore, polygamy is legal in countries which have adopted Islamic laws for their marital rules. However in Muslim-majority countries which have not done this, the practice can be rare.

Last week, a member of the Uzbekistan’s Justice Ministry appeared on a popular talk show and claimed “illiterate mullahs” were responsible for the unsanctioned weddings which continue to take place. This follows comments made last month by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who claimed polygamy led to “undesirable consequences”. Shortly afterwards, the state-run media began a campaign against it.

Despite its popularity, the practice has also been criticised by campaign groups in the country such as women’s rights activists. One such critic called polygamy “a religious mask to lasciviousness” while another insisted it was “better not to have a husband at all than to be a second [wife]”. Women who do not see a problem with it “shouldn’t be surprised if men walk all over them” the activist wrote.

Earlier this year, an MP in Iraq actually proposed incentives for polygamy. Jamila al-Ebeidi claimed that the rise of unmarried women in the country was a result of “selfishness” and said it was time to “renounce the one-woman mentality”.

Uzbekistan is a landlocked country between Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Historically a part of Russia, the nation gained independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country has a population of a little over 28 million, according to the BBC.

Photo of the Uzbekistan Parliament building by upyernoz via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

Paul - July 17, 2017 at 10:01pm

More action to protect women from their own actions ? – im confused. Are women capable of making their own life choices or not ? – Are they capable of independant thought ? – Did this women not choose to take such vows ? Did they not make a choice to be a mans second wife ? – the world is trying to move towards equality I have to ask is it possible to treat women as equal ? because in a court room they never seem to be reaponsible for their own actions ? – men tyrant woman victim seems to be the universal approach.

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