The South African government has announced that it is considering revising its laws on marriage.
The said update contains several proposals including the possibility of recognizing polyandry, where women can take on more than one husband at the same time.
Polyandry is a form of polygamy where women marry more than one man as husband at the same time.
Polygamy where men marry more than one wife at the same time is widely practice in many parts of Africa but not polyandry.
At the moment, only polygamy is recognised in South Africa, which means men can have more than one wife.
But South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs gazetted a new green paper for the Marriage Act earlier this month and one of the proposals is the recognition of polyandry.
The department said that “Activists submitted that equality demands that polyandry be legally recognised as a form of marriage.
Traditional leaders were however among those who objected to polyandry and labelled it an ‘unacceptable practice because it is not of African origin’. Ironically, stakeholders who believed in the practice of (polygyny) were opposed to the practice of polyandry.”
Reactions of South Africans
On social media the proposal has sparked debate among South Africans.
However polyandry in terms of the Marriages Act would mean the Act be amended to allow ONLY women to legalise bigamy which it’s itself is contra bonos mores & unfairly discriminate against men who are in Civil marriages & wish to marry another woman i.t.o of the Marriages as well
— AttorneyAtLaw (@ZacMoselane) May 15, 2021
Can’t wait to buy my 4 husbands the same underpans for Father’s Day. In South Africa our laaaaand ♥️ #polyandry
— Cocoa Butter Choc (@lizsibisi) May 15, 2021
Maybe #polyandry in South Africa is just what we need, when the one man wants to kill you the other 2 husbands will step in and stop him from doing so.
— Lé Bon Vivant (@KnoxmanT) May 18, 2021
Should polyandry law pass in South Africa, the next thing will be to permit women not to wear bikini bras in beaches or anyplace since men don’t cover their chests.
Wath the space!
— ®Hamilton Chauke?? (@HamieChauke) May 18, 2021
I’m in full support of the proposed legislative bill from Home Affairs allowing polyandry in South Africa…
— Lerato Moloko Mphahlele ?? (@_Lerato_Moloko) May 13, 2021
The proposed new law gazetted also wants to legalise Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Rastafarian marriages, which are presently not formally recognised in South Africa.
The document read that “The failure to recognise these religious marriages is untenable and discriminatory. Gender-neutral marriage regime would accommodate both polygyny and polyandry.
The difference is that this option is gender-neutral. Therefore all marriages, whether monogamous or polygamous, could be concluded regardless of the sex or sexual orientation of the person.”