South Africa to enforce a new marriage law that would permit women to marry multiple men

South Africa to enforce a new marriage law that would permit women to marry multiple men

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has drafted a new legislation that would encourage women to marry several husbands, a practice known as polyandry.

South Africa to enforce a new marriage law that would permit women to marry multiple men


According to what we have learned, the aim is to uphold equality and get it up to par with polygamy, which involves a man marrying many women.

The new marriage law is patriarchal, according to the policy paper, because it does not recognise Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, or Rastafarian partnerships. Polyandry was also asked for to be recognised as a civil mode of marriage in the policy text.

The Green Paper introduced three new marriage systems in order to move marriage legislation closer to equality. A gender-neutral marriage system is one of these alternatives.

the document read;

This would accommodate both polygyny and polyandry

…Therefore all marriages, whether monogamous or polygamous, could be concluded regardless of the sex or sexual orientation of the person.”

South Africa’s Ministry of Home Affairs appears to favour the option for a gender-neutral marriage regime that allows both polyandry and polygyny. The Ministry wrote;

“The political appetite of the country to confront the challenges of the current marriage statute will be tested through these options. However, if Section 9 of the Constitution was to be implemented in its entirety, option 3 will tick all the boxes.”

The Ministry however noted that the option for polyandry has ruffled feathers and South Africa’s traditional leaders have vociferously opposed the proposal, claiming that a woman being married to more than one husband is an “unacceptable practise because it is not of African origin.”

It added;

“Ironically, stakeholders who believed in the practice of polygamy … were opposed to the practice of polyandry.

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“This is the beginning of a crucial public discourse that will re-define the concept of marriage in South Africa.

“The process will unearth issues that may make some of us uncomfortable, but will encourage dialogue within the South African and international communities.”