Toba chieftain and his wives, 1892

Polygamy (from πολύς γάμος polys gamos, translated literally in Late Greek as "often married")[1] is a marriage which includes more than two partners.[1] When a man is married to more than one wife at a time, the relationship is called polygyny, and there is no marriage bond between the wives; and when a woman is married to more than one husband at a time, it is called polyandry, and there is no marriage bond between the husbands. If a marriage includes multiple husbands and wives, it can be called group marriage.[1] The term is used in related ways in social anthropology, sociobiology, sociology, as well as in popular speech. In social anthropology, polygamy is the practice of a person's making him/herself available for two or more spouses to mate with. In contrast, monogamy is a marriage consisting of only two parties. Like monogamy, the term is often used in a de facto sense, applying regardless of whether the relationships are recognized by the state (see marriage for a discussion on the extent to which states can and do recognize potentially and actually polygamous forms as valid). In sociobiology and zoology, polygamy is used in a broad sense to mean any form of multiple mating.


Forms of polygamy

Legal status of polygamy
Recognized under civil law

Burkina Faso
The Gambia

Saudi Arabia
South Africa
Sri Lanka1
Western Sahara

Recognized in some regions

Nigeria (BA, BO, GO, JI, KD, KA, KT, KE, NI, SO, YO, ZA)

Foreign marriages recognized

Australia (welfare only)
United Kingdom (welfare only)

Recognized under customary law

Equatorial Guinea

Sierra Leone
South Africa

Status in other jurisdictions

Côte d'Ivoire
DR Congo
Iraqi Kurdistan
Mayotte (FR)

United States

Nigeria (IM, KW, LA, NA, OY, PL)
See also

Polygamy by country
Marriage practice by country


1Illegal in all forms; Muslims exempt
2Regions governed by Sharia

*In certain countries and regions, only Muslims may legally contract a polygamous marriage

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Polygamy exists in three specific forms: polygyny - wherein a man has multiple simultaneous wives;[2] polyandry - wherein a woman has multiple simultaneous husbands; or group marriage - wherein the family unit consists of multiple husbands and multiple wives.

Historically, all three practices have been found, but polygyny is by far the most common.[3] Confusion arises when the broad term "polygamy" is used when a specific form of polygamy is being referred to. Additionally, different countries may or may not include all forms in their Polygamy laws.


Polyandry is a practice wherein a woman has more than one husband at the same time. Fraternal polyandry was traditionally practiced among nomadic Tibetans in Nepal, parts of China and part of northern India, in which two or more brothers are married to the same wife, with the wife having equal 'sexual access' to them. The Indian epic the Mahabharata includes the polyandrous marriage of Draupadi to the five Pandava brothers. Polyandry is believed to be more likely in societies with scarce environmental resources, as it is believed to limit human population growth and enhance child survival.[4] It is a rare form of marriage that exists not only among poor families, but also the elite.[5]

Group marriage

Group marriage is a marriage wherein the family unit consists of more than two partners, any of whom share parental responsibility for any children arising from the marriage.[citation needed] Group marriage is a form of non-monogamy and polyamory.

Patterns of occurrence worldwide

According to the Ethnographic Atlas Codebook, of 1,231 societies noted, 186 were monogamous. 453 had occasional polygyny, 588 had more frequent polygyny, and 4 had polyandry.[3] At the same time, even within societies which allow polygyny, the actual practice of polygyny occurs relatively rarely. There are exceptions: in Senegal, for example, nearly 47 percent of marriages are multiple.[6] To take on more than one wife often requires considerable resources: this may put polygamy beyond the means of the vast majority of people within those societies. Such appears the case in many traditional Islamic societies, and in Imperial China. Within polygynous societies, multiple wives often become a status symbol denoting wealth, power, and fame.



Polygamy was practiced in many sections of Hindu society in ancient times. There was one example of polyandry in the ancient Hindu epic, Mahabharata, Draupadi marries the five Pandava brothers. Regarding polygyny, in Ramayana, father of Ram, King Dasharath has three wives, but Ram has pledged himself just one wife.

The Hindu god, Lord Krishna, the 9th incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu had 16,108 wives at his kingdom in Dwarka. In the post-Vedic periods, polygamy declined in Hinduism, and is now considered immoral,[7] although it is thought that some sections of Hindu society still practice polygyny, in the areas of Tibet, Nepal, and China.

Marriage laws in India are dependent upon the religion of the subject in question. Although the Vedas and the Hindu religion itself do not outlaw polygamy, the terms under the Hindu Marriage Act has deemed polygamy to be illegal for Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Only Muslim men in India are allowed to have multiple wives, since they are governed under Sharia law.[8]


In Buddhism, marriage is not a sacrament. It is purely a secular affair and the monks do not participate in it, though in some sects priests and monks do marry (e.g. Japan). Hence it receives no religious sanction.[9] Forms of marriage consequently vary from country to country. It is said in the Parabhava Sutta that "a man who is not satisfied with one woman and seeks out other women is on the path to decline". Other fragments in the Buddhist scripture can be found that seem to treat polygamy unfavorably, leading some authors to conclude that Buddhism generally does not approve of it[10] or alternatively that it is a tolerated, but subordinate marital model.[11]

Until 1935 polygyny was legally recognized in Thailand. In Burma, polygyny was also frequent. It is still legally recognized but very rarely practiced in modern day and socially less acceptable.[citation needed] In Sri Lanka, polyandry was practiced (though not widespread) till recent times.[9] When the Buddhist texts were translated into Chinese, the concubines of others were added to the list of inappropriate partners. Polyandry in Tibet as well was common traditionally, as was polygyny, and having several wives or husbands was never regarded as having sex with inappropriate partners.[12] Tibet is home to the largest and most flourishing polyandrous community in the world today. Most typically, fraternal polyandry is practiced, but sometimes father and son have a common wife, which is a unique family structure in the world. Other forms of marriage are also present, like group marriage and monogamous marriage.[13] Polyandry (especially fraternal polyandry) is also common among Buddhists in Bhutan, Ladakh, and other parts of the Indian subcontinent.


Biblical practice

Multiple marriage was considered a realistic alternative in the case of famine, widowhood, or female infertility[14] like in the practice of levirate marriage, wherein a man was required to marry and support his deceased brother's widow, as mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5–10. Despite its prevalence in the Hebrew bible, scholars do not believe that polygyny was commonly practiced in the biblical era because it required a significant amount of wealth.[15]

Polygyny continued to be practiced well into the biblical period, and it is attested among Jews as late as the second century CE.[16]
Michael CooganGod and Sex. What the Bible Really Says.

The Torah, Judaism's central text, includes a few specific regulations on the practice of polygamy, such as Exodus 21:10, which states that multiple marriages are not to diminish the status of the first wife (specifically, her right to food, clothing and conjugal relations). Deuteronomy 21:15–17, states that a man must award the inheritance due to a first-born son to the son who was actually born first, even if he hates that son's mother and likes another wife more;[17] and Deuteronomy 17:17 states that the king shall not have too many wives.[18] The king's behavior is condemned by Prophet Samuel in 1Samuel 8. Exodus 21:10 also speaks of Jewish concubines. Israeli lexicographer Vadim Cherny argues that the Torah carefully distinguishes concubines and "sub-standard" wives with prefix "to", lit. "took to wives."[19]

The monogamy of the Roman Empire was the cause of two explanatory notes in the writings of Josephus describing how the polygamous marriages of Herod were permitted under Jewish custom.[20]

Modern practice

In the modern day, polygamy is uncommon in Rabbinic Judaism, especially among European Jews. Ashkenazi Jews have followed Rabbenu Gershom's ban since the 11th century.[21] Some Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews (particularly those from North Africa, Yemen, Kurdistan, and Iran) discontinued polygamy much more recently, as they emigrated to countries where it was forbidden. However polygamy still occurs in non-European Jewish communities that exist in countries where it is not forbidden, such as Jewish communities in Yemen and the Arab world. Technically, polygamy is not forbidden in Jewish law.

Among Karaite Jews, who do not adhere to Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah, polygamy is almost non-existent today. Like other Jews, Karaites interpret Leviticus 18:18 to mean that a man can only take a second wife if his first wife gives her consent (Keter Torah on Leviticus, pp. 96–97) and Karaites interpret Exodus 21:10 to mean that a man can only take a second wife if he is capable of maintaining the same level of marital duties due to his first wife; the marital duties are 1) food, 2) clothing, and 3) sexual gratification. Because of these two biblical limitations and because most countries outlaw it, polygamy is considered highly impractical, and there are only a few known cases of it among Karaite Jews today.


Israel, in accordance with Western ethics, has made polygamy illegal.[22][23] Provisions were instituted to allow for existing polygamous families immigrating from countries where the practice was legal. Furthermore, former chief rabbi Ovadia Yosef[24] has come out in favor of legalizing polygamy and the practice of pilegesh (concubine) by the Israeli government.

Tzvi Zohar, a professor from the Bar-Ilan University, recently suggested that based on the opinions of leading halachic authorities, the concept of concubines may serve as a practical Halachic justification for premarital or non-marital cohabitation.[25][26]


Saint Augustine saw a conflict with Old Testament polygamy. He refrained from judging the patriarchs, but did not deduce from their practice the ongoing acceptability of polygamy. On the contrary, he showed that polygamy of the Fathers, tolerated by the Creator because of fertility, was a diversion from His original plan for the human marriage. Augustine wrote:That the good purpose of marriage, however, is better promoted by one husband with one wife, than by a husband with several wives, is shown plainly enough by the very first union of a married pair, which was made by the Divine Being Himself.[27]

Augustine taught that the reason why patriarchs had many wives was not because of fornication but because they wanted more children. He proved it by showing that their marriages, in which husband was a head, were arranged according to the rules of good management: those who are in command (quae principantur) in the society are always singular, while subordinates (subiecta) are multiple. He gave two examples of such relationship: dominus-servus - master-servant (in older translation, slave) and God-soul. The Bible many times says that worshipping multiple gods, i.e. idolatry is a fornication.[citation needed] Augustine relates to that: On this account there is no True God of souls, save One: but one soul by means of many false gods may commit fornication, but not be made fruitful.[28]

Since the fullness of time arrived, fertility has no longer been regarded as a reason justifying polygamy: it was lawful among the ancient fathers: whether it be lawful now also, I would not hastily pronounce (utrum et nunc fas sit, non temere dixerim). For there is not now necessity of begetting children, as there then was, when, even when wives bear children, it was allowed, in order to a more numerous posterity, to marry other wives in addition, which now is certainly not lawful.[29]

Augustine saw marriage as sacrament-friendly covenant between one man and one woman, which may not be broken. It was the Creator who established monogamy: Therefore the first natural bond of human society is man and wife.[30] Such marriage was confirmed by the Saviour in the Gospel of Matthew (Mat 19,9) and by His presence at the wedding in Cana (John 2:2).[31] In the Church—the City of God—marriage is a sacrament and may not and cannot be dissolved as long as the spouses live: But a marriage once for all entered upon in the City of our God, where, even from the first union of the two, the man and the woman, marriage bears a certain sacramental character, can in no way be dissolved but by the death of one of them..[32] In chapter 7, he points out that also the practice of the Roman Empire forbids polygamy, even if the reason of fertility would support it: For it is in a man’s power to put away a wife that is barren, and marry one of whom to have children. And yet it is not allowed; and now indeed in our times, and after the usage of Rome (nostris quidem iam temporibus ac more Romano), neither to marry in addition, so as to have more than one wife living. Further on he notices that the Church's attitude goes much further than the secular law regarding monogamy: It forbids re-marrying, considering such to be a form of fornication: And yet, save in the City of our God, in His Holy Mount, the case is not such with the wife. But, that the laws of the Gentiles are otherwise, who is there that knows not .[33]

The New Testament does not specifically address the morality of polygamy. 1 Timothy, however, states that certain Church leaders should have but one wife: "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach" (chapter 3, verse 2; see also verse 12 regarding deacons having only one wife). Similar counsel is repeated in the first chapter of the Epistle of Titus; however, the redactor[34] of 1 Corinthians (chapter 7, verse 2) writes, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband." In modern times a minority of Roman Catholic theologians have argued that polygamy, though not ideal, can be a legitimate form of Christian marriage in certain regions, in particular Africa.[35][36] The Roman Catholic Church teaches in its Catechism that

"polygamy is not in accord with the moral law. [Conjugal] communion is radically contradicted by polygamy; this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive."[37]

Periodically, Christian reform movements that have aimed at rebuilding Christian doctrine based on the Bible alone (sola scriptura) have at least temporarily accepted polygamy as a Biblical practice. For example, during the Protestant Reformation, in a document referred to simply as "Der Beichtrat" (or "The Confessional Advice" ),[38] Martin Luther granted the Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who, for many years, had been living "constantly in a state of adultery and fornication,"[39] a dispensation to take a second wife. The double marriage was to be done in secret however, to avoid public scandal.[40] Some fifteen years earlier, in a letter to the Saxon Chancellor Gregor Brück, Luther stated that he could not "forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict Scripture." ("Ego sane fateor, me non posse prohibere, si quis plures velit uxores ducere, nec repugnat sacris literis.")[41]

"On February 14, 1650, the parliament at Nürnberg decreed that, because so many men were killed during the Thirty Years’ War, the churches for the following ten years could not admit any man under the age of 60 into a monastery. Priests and ministers not bound by any monastery were allowed to marry. Lastly, the decree stated that every man was allowed to marry up to ten women. The men were admonished to behave honorably, provide for their wives properly, and prevent animosity among them."[42][43][44][45][46][47]

The trend towards frequent divorce and remarriage is sometimes referred to as 'serial polygamy'.[48] In contrast, others may refer to this as 'serial monogamy', since it is a series of monogamous relationships.[49] The first term highlights the multiplicity of marriages throughout the life-cycle, the second the non-simultaneous nature of these marriages.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there has often been a tension between the Christian churches' insistence on monogamy and traditional polygamy. In some instances in recent times there have been moves for accommodation; in other instances, churches have resisted such moves strongly. African Independent Churches have sometimes referred to those parts of the Old Testament which describe polygamy in defending the practice.

Controversial Christian vegetarian activist and leader Nathan Braun implies a positive stance towards polygamy in his fourth edition of The History and Philosophy of Marriage.[citation needed]

Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church clearly condemns polygamy; the Catechism of the Catholic Church lists it in paragraph 2387 under the head "Other offenses against the dignity of marriage" and states that it "is not in accord with the moral law." Also in paragraph 1645 under the head "The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love" states "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection. Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive."

The illegality of polygamy in certain areas creates, according to certain Bible passages, additional arguments against it. Paul of Tarsus writes "submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience" (Romans 13:5), for "the authorities that exist have been established by God." (Romans 13:1) St Peter concurs when he says to "submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:13,14) Pro-polygamists argue that, as long as polygamists currently do not obtain legal marriage licenses nor seek "common law marriage status" for additional spouses, no enforced laws are being broken any more than when monogamous couples who similarly co-habitate without a marriage license.[50]

Latter Day Saint movement

Mormonism and polygamy
Members of Joseph F. Smith's family, including his sons and daughters, as well as their spouses and children, circa 1900.
v · d · e

The history of Mormon polygamy (specifically polygyny) began with Joseph Smith, Jr. claiming to have received a revelation on July 17, 1831 that "plural marriage" should be practiced by some Mormon men who were specifically commanded to do so. This was later published in the Doctrine and Covenants by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).[51] Despite Smith's revelation, the 1835 edition of the 101st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, written after the doctrine of plural marriage began to be practiced, publicly condemned polygamy. This scripture was used by John Taylor in 1850 to quash Mormon polygamy rumors in Liverpool, England.[52] Polygamy was made illegal in the state of Illinois[53] during the 1839–44 Nauvoo era when several top Mormon leaders, including Smith,[54][55] Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, took plural wives. Mormon elders who publicly taught that all men were commanded to enter plural marriage were subject to harsh discipline.[56] On June 7, 1844 the Nauvoo Expositor criticized Smith for plural marriage. After Joseph Smith's murder by a mob on June 27, 1844, the main body of Mormons left Nauvoo and followed Brigham Young to Utah where the practice of plural marriage continued.[57]

In 1852 Brigham Young, the second president of the LDS Church publicly acknowledged the practice of plural marriage through a sermon he gave. Additional sermons by top Mormon leaders on the virtues of polygamy followed.[58] Controversy followed when polygyny became a social cause, writers began to publish works condemning polygamy. The key plank of the Republican Party's 1856 platform was "to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery".[59] In 1862, Congress issued the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act which clarified that the practice of polygamy was illegal in all US territories. The LDS Church believed that their religiously-based practice of plural marriage was protected by the United States Constitution,[60] however, the unanimous 1878 Supreme Court decision Reynolds v. United States declared that polygamy was not protected by the Constitution, based on the longstanding legal principle that "laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."[61]

Increasingly harsh anti-polygamy legislation in the US led some Mormons to emigrate to Canada and Mexico. In 1890, LDS Church president Wilford Woodruff issued a public declaration (the Manifesto) announcing that the LDS Church had discontinued new plural marriages. Anti-Mormon sentiment waned, as did opposition to statehood for Utah. The Smoot Hearings in 1904, which documented that the LDS Church was still practicing polygamy spurred the LDS Church to issue a Second Manifesto again claiming that it had ceased performing new plural marriages. By 1910 the LDS Church excommunicated those who entered into, or performed, new plural marriages. Even so, many plural husbands and wives continued to cohabit until their deaths in the 1940s and 1950s.[62] The last documented mainstream LDS polygamous marriage was the grandfather of current LDS apostle Eyring, Edward Eyring, and two distant cousins of Mitt Romney. One of the cousins died in 1954, turning the marriage into a monogamous one.

Fundamentalist Mormonism

Enforcement of the 1890 Manifesto caused various splinter groups to leave the LDS Church in order to continue the practice of plural marriage.[63] Polygamy among these groups persists today in Utah and neighboring states as well as in the spin-off colonies. Polygamist churches of Mormon origin are often referred to as "Mormon fundamentalist" even though they are not a part of the LDS Church. Such fundamentalists often use a purported 1886 revelation to John Taylor as the basis for their authority to continue the practice of plural marriage.[64] The Salt Lake Tribune stated in 2005 there were as many as 37,000 fundamentalists with less than half of them living in polygamous households.[65]

So the fundamentalist Mormons who insist that polygamy is biblical are right, in a sense. If you're going to be a strict literalist, there's nothing wrong with polygamy.[66]
Michael Coogan"What the Bible Has to Say About Sex" by Alexandra Silver


In Islam, polygyny is allowed, with the specific limitation that a man can have up to four wives at any one time. The Qur'an clearly states that men who choose this route must deal with their wives justly. If the husband fears that he cannot deal with his wives justly, then he should only marry one. The Qur'an does not give preference in marrying more than one wife but allows it to make it easier on a woman that has no support. Islamic scholars opinion that the husband must tell the first wife if he wants to marry another. A husband does not have to have permission from his first wife.[67] Women, on the other hand, are only allowed to marry one husband, although they are allowed to remarry after a divorce. Although many Muslim countries still retain traditional Islamic law which permits polygamy, secular elements within some Muslim societies challenge its acceptability. Polygamy is prohibited by law in some Muslim-majority countries that have not adopted Islamic law for marital regulations, such as Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia and Turkey.

Polygamy, and laws concerning polygamy, differ greatly throughout the Islamic world and form a very complex and diverse background from nation to nation. Whereas in some Muslim countries it may be fairly common, in most others it is often rare or non-existent. According to traditional Islamic law, a man may take up to four wives, and each of those wives must have her own property, assets, and dowry. Usually the wives have little to no contact with each other and lead separate, individual lives in their own houses, and sometimes in different cities, though they all share the same husband. Polygamy is an exception rather than the rule and is traditionally restricted to men who can manage things, and in some countries it is illegal for a man to marry multiple wives if he is unable to afford to take care of each of them properly.[citation needed]

In the modern Islamic world, polygamy is mainly found in[citation needed] Saudi Arabia, and West and East Africa; in Sudan it is encouraged by the president as the female population is high.[68] Among the 22 member states of the Arab League, Tunisia alone explicitly prohibits polygamy; however, it is generally frowned upon in many of the more secularized Arab states, such as Egypt. Few other countries including Libya and Morocco require the written permission of the first wife if her husband wishes to marry a second, third, or fourth wife. In Morocco it is the written notification of the first wife and not necessarily the consent that is needed.

Polygamy by country

In countries that do not permit polygamy, the practice is considered bigamy.[69] In countries where polygamy is outlawed, consent from a prior spouse makes no difference to the validity of the second marriage and the second marriage is considered legally null and void. Laws usually do exist to protect the rights of an unsuspecting second spouse and any children from the otherwise invalid marriage.


Polygamy existed all over Africa as an aspect of culture or/and religion. Plural marriages have been more common than not in the history of Africa. Many African societies saw children as a form of wealth thus the more children a family had the more powerful it was. Thus polygamy was part of empire building. It was only during the colonial era that plural marriage was perceived as taboo. Esther Stanford, an African-focused lawyer, states that this decline was encouraged because the issues of property ownership conflicted with European colonial interest.[70] Polygamy is very common in West Africa. However, the diffusion of Islam to this region has decreased the prevalence of polygamy in this region, due to restrictions on number of wives.[71][72]


Polygamy is widespread in Kenya, the most prominent individual being Akuku Danger who married over 100 wives.[73]


After a BBC television interview with Mohammed Bello Abubakar, articles were published in newspapers around the world about his 86 wives and 170 children, and he faced the death penalty under Sharia law if he did not divorce 82 of them.[74]

South Africa

In South Africa, traditionalists commonly practice polygamy.[75] The president, Jacob Zuma is also openly in favor of plural marriages, being married to three wives himself.[76] He has a total of twenty nine children with these and four previous wives.[77]


Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has encouraged multiple marriages to increase the population.[78]


The Chinese culture of Confucianism and thus the practice of polygamy spread from China to Japan and areas that are now Vietnam. Before their modernizations, East Asian countries permitted similar practices of polygamy.[79]

A 2011 opinion poll showed that most Malaysians and Indonesians youth opposed polygamy. The results were considered "remarkable" given that the youth were otherwise religiously conservative[80] (those surveyed advocated the hijab for women, and opposed premarital sex[81]).

South Asia

Polygyny, permitted under Islamic law, is present amongst some Muslims in South Asia.

Polygamy is illegal in India for Hindus and other religious groups under the Hindu marriage Act. It remains legal for Muslims under the terms of The Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937, as interpreted by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. .[82][83][84]

Polygamy is generally quite rare in urban areas, and among the cosmopolitan middle classes.


Until polygamy was outlawed by King Rama VI, it was expected that wealthy or upper-class Thai men were historically recognized to maintain mansions consisting of multiple wives and their children in the same residence. Among the royalty and courtiers in the past, wives were classified as principal, secondary, and slave. Today, the tradition of minor wives still remains, but the practice is different from that of the past. Due to the expense involved, minor wives are mostly limited to the wealthy men. While a "proper woman" (Kulasatrii; Thai: กุลสตรี) must remain faithful to her husband, there were no equivalent rules in history mandating fidelity in the "virtuous man."

Regardless of the historical acceptance, male polygamy or plural marriage is no longer legally or socially acceptable in the contemporary Thai society. However, the practice of having "minor wives" (Mia-Noi: เมียน้อย) continues in modern days in secrecy from the "primary wife" (Mia-Luang: เมียหลวง).[85] Almost all married Thai women today object to this practice, and indeed for many it has been grounds for divorce.[86] Minor wives are viewed with contempt by the Thai society along the lines of being amoral women or home breakers.[87]


Technically, ever since the Han Dynasty, it had been unlawful for Chinese men to have more than one wife.[citation needed] However, throughout the history of imperial China, it had been common for the rich and influential Chinese men to have one wife and various concubines.[citation needed] Polygamy in China is considered to be a by-product of the tradition of emphasis on procreation and the continuity of the father's family name.[citation needed] Although the establishment of the Republic of China made it explicitly unlawful for a man to have multiple spouses/concubines, such legislation were generally not enforced, especially among the societal elites who were most likely to live such lifestyles.[citation needed] The most serious changes occurred during and after the Communist Revolution, where traditions considered backward and feudal (such as concubinage, foot-binding, slavery, prostitution, etc.) were thoroughly outlawed and severely punished for.[citation needed] It is illegal in modern China to have more than one spouse for either sex. Polygamy is only usually seen in southwest China among Chinese minorities such as Tibetans etc.[citation needed]

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, polygamy was banned in October 1971.[88] Some Hong Kong businessmen[who?] have concubines across the border in mainland China, but concubines do not have the legal or social status of wives and so this should not strictly be called "polygamy". Kevin Murphy of The International Herald Tribune[89] reports the cross-border polygyny phenomenon in Hong Kong in 1995.[90]

The traditional attitude toward mistresses is reflected in the saying: "wife is not as good as concubine, concubine is not as good as prostitute, prostitute is not as good as secret affair, secret affair is not as good as the affair you want but can't get" (妻不如妾, 妾不如妓, 妓不如偷, 偷不如偷不著).[citation needed]


United States

David Friedman and Steve Sailer have argued that polygamy tends to benefit most women and disadvantage most men, under the assumption that most men and women do not practice it. The idea is firstly that many women would prefer half or one third of someone especially appealing to being the single spouse of someone that does not provide as much economic utility to them. Secondly, that the remaining women have a better market for finding a spouse themselves. Say that 20% of women are married to 10% of men, that leaves 90% of men to compete over the remaining 80% of women. Friedman uses this viewpoint to argue in favor of legalizing polygamy, while Sailer uses it to argue against legalizing it.

In the US, the Libertarian Party supports complete decriminalization of polygamy as part of a general belief that the government should not regulate marriages.

Individualist feminism and advocates such as Wendy McElroy also support the freedom for adults to voluntarily enter polygamous marriages.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, USA, is opposed to Utah's law against cohabitation.[91]

Those who advocate a Federal Marriage Amendment to the American Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage generally word their proposed laws to also prohibit polygamy. Many proponents of same-sex marriage are also in favour of maintaining current statutory prohibitions against polygamy.[citation needed]

Stanley Kurtz, a fellow at the Hudson Institute, lamented the modern arguments increasingly being made by various intellectuals who call for de-criminalizing polygamy. Kurtz concluded, "Marriage, as its ultramodern critics would like to say, is indeed about choosing one's partner, and about freedom in a society that values freedom. But that's not the only thing it is about. As the Supreme Court justices who unanimously decided Reynolds in 1878 understood, marriage is also about sustaining the conditions in which freedom can thrive. Polygamy in all its forms is a recipe for social structures that inhibit and ultimately undermine social freedom and democracy. A hard-won lesson of Western history is that genuine democratic self-rule begins at the hearth of the monogamous family."[92]

Nazi Germany

In Nazi Germany, there was an effort by Martin Bormann and Heinrich Himmler to introduce new legislation concerning plural marriage.[93] The argument ran that after the war, 3 to 4 million women would have to remain unmarried due to the great number of soldiers fallen in battle. In order to make it possible for these women to have children, a procedure for application and selection for suitable men (i.e. decorated war heroes) to enter a marital relationship with an additional woman was planned.[93] The privileged position of the first wife was to be secured by awarding her the title Domina.[93]

The greatest fighter deserves the most beautiful woman ... If the German man is to be unreservedly ready to die as a soldier, he must have the freedom to love unreservedly. For struggle and love belong together. The philistine should be glad if he gets whatever is left
—Adolf Hitler, [93]

Polygamy in fiction and popular culture

Science fiction, utopias, dystopias

A number of writers have expressed their views on polygamy by writing about a fictional world in which it is the most common type of relationship. These worlds tend to be utopian or dystopian in nature.

For instance, Robert A. Heinlein uses this theme in a number of novels, such as Stranger in a Strange Land, as well as his later works such as Time Enough for Love, Number of the Beast, and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.

Conversely, Fritz Leiber explores polyandry in a 1951 story, Nice Girl with Five Husbands.

Polygamy is practiced by the Fremen in Frank Herbert's Dune as a means to pinpoint male infertility. It is socially accepted as long as the man provides for all wives equally. Cultures described within the Dune novel series have intentional similarities to Islamic, Arab, and other cultures – i.e. desert cultures.

Similarly, the Aiel society in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series practice a form of polygamy, in which multiple women may marry the same man; in that fictional culture, women are the ones who propose marriage. Among Aiel, sisters or very close friends who have adopted each other as sisters, will often marry the same man, so that he will not come between them.

Ursula K. Le Guin describes a planet O, where the cultural norm is a "sedoretu" or four-person marriage (a set combination of both genders and sexual orientations).

Dan Simmons describes a culture of three-person marriages (any gender ratio) in his book Endymion.

In David Weber's Honor Harrington series, the inhabitants of the planet Grayson practice polygamy (polygyny) due to the human colonists to the planet acquiring a genetic defect that gave rise to a large women-to-men birth ratio combined with a high infant mortality. Honor Harrington herself is married to Hamish Alexander as his second wife alongside Emily Alexander. Their surname then becomes Alexander-Harrington.

Wen Spencer's science fiction novel A Brother's Price describes a society where men are very rare and protected, and multiple sisters typically marry one man. In the novel Ruins of Isis, mention is made of a culture where a type of group marriage is performed-a group of 4 people minimum, two men, two women to start.

In the Star Trek television series Enterprise, the ship's physician, Dr. Phlox (who is a Denobulan) has three wives, each of whom has three husbands of her own (including him). One of his wives seemed to be interested in having extramarital relations with a human, which Phlox himself did not oppose, and even encouraged. It has also been stated that the Andorian species enter into group marriages (although whether this is due to societal custom or biological necessity has not been established onscreen, but left to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine relaunch original novels.)

In the Sci-Fi television series Babylon 5 the Centauris allow for men to have more than one wife. In Star Wars Expanded Universe, it is explained that Cereans (like Ki-Adi-Mundi) have a much higher birth-rate of girls than boys. Thus, every male Cerean must have one wife and multiple "honor wives", to increase the chance of giving birth to another male. Jedi Cerean Ki-Adi-Mundi was allowed to marry multiple times, although Jedi were not supposed to marry at his time; but Ki-Adi-Mundi got a dispense of that norm.

Prehistoric and historic fiction

Jean M. Auel in the pre-historic Earth's Children series depicted several instances of "co-mating," where a person could have more than one mate. Examples included the headwoman Tulie in the Mammoth Hunters, and a man who married a pair of twins in the Shelters of Stone. Also of note was Vincavec, the headman of the Mammoth Camp who wished to mate with the protagonist Ayla and was willing to take her Promised, Ranec, implying a bisexual relationship as well.

In the Chinese Wuxia novel The Deer and the Cauldron by Hong Kong writer Louis Cha, set in the Qing Dynasty era during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor, the protagonist Wei Xiaobao has seven wives. The novel has spawned numerous film and TV series adaptations since the 1960s.

Contemporary setting

Random House published David Ebershoff's novel The 19th Wife in 2008. It is about Ann Eliza Young, one of Brigham Young's wives, and the legacy of Mormon polygamy in the United States today. A Home at the End of the World is a novel by Michael Cunningham about a polygamous family. It was later adapted into a film. Both explore issues of homosexuality and families. Big Love is an HBO series about a polygamous family in Utah in the first decade of the 21st century. In the series, Bill Henrickson has three wives and eight children, who belong to a fundamentalist Mormon splinter group. Big Love explores the complex legal, moral, and religious issues associated with polygamy in Utah. Henrickson's three wives each have separate houses beside one another, with a shared backyard. By outward appearances, he lives with his primary wife, and has two "friends" living close by, while in reality taking turns sleeping at a different house each night. Henrickson effectively balances his work, the continuing demands of his wives, and his wives' relatives.

In September 2010 TLC premiered a reality television series entitled Sister Wives, which deals with polygamy by a self-described fundamentalist Mormon family in modern day Utah.[94] On July 13, 2011, the show's husband and his wives filed a complaint in United States District Court to challenge Utah's law against polygamy.[95]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Zeitzen, Miriam Koktvedgaard (2008). Polygamy: a cross-cultural analysis. Berg. p. 3. ISBN 1845202201. http://books.google.com/books?id=WIzHjpTJgdQC&pg=PA3. 
  2. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, s.v. 'polygyny'.
  3. ^ a b Ethnographic Atlas Codebook derived from George P. Murdock’s Ethnographic Atlas recording the marital composition of 1231 societies from 1960–1980
  4. ^ (Linda Stone, Kinship and Gender, 2006, Westview, 3rd ed, ch 6) The Center for Research on Tibet Papers on Tibetan Marriage and Polyandry. Accessed: October 1, 2006
  5. ^ Goldstein, Pahari and Tibetan Polyandry Revisited, Ethnology. 17(3): 325–327, 1978, from The Center for Research on Tibet. Accessed: October 1, 2007
  6. ^ Diouf, Nafi (May 2, 2004). "Polygamy hangs on in Africa". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20040502/ai_n10968614. 
  7. ^ V.Jayaram (2007-01-09). "Hinduwebsite.com". Hinduwebsite.com. http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_polygamy.asp. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  8. ^ Marriages-Divorces section at general information website on Indian laws by Sudhir Shah and Associates
  9. ^ a b "Accesstoinsight.org". Accesstoinsight.org. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/dewaraja/wheel280.html. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  10. ^ The Ethics of Buddhism, Shundō Tachibana, Routledge, 1992, ISBN 070070230X, 9780700702305
  11. ^ An introduction to Buddhist ethics: foundations, values, and issues, Brian Peter Harvey, Cambridge University Press, 2000, ISBN 0521556406, ISBN 9780521556408
  12. ^ "Berzinarchives.com". Berzinarchives.com. 2010-10-07. http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/world_today/issues_buddhist_sexual_ethics.html. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  13. ^ Polygamy: a cross-cultural analysis, Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitze, Published by Berg Publishers, 2008, ISBN 1845202201, ISBN 9781845202200 (as found at Google books)
  14. ^ Freeman, Tzvi. "Chabad.org". Chabad.org. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/770990/jewish/Why-does-Torah-law-allow-polygamy.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  15. ^ Gene McAfee "Sex" The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, eds. Oxford University Press Inc. 1993. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. 19 March 2010.
  16. ^ Coogan, Michael (October 2010). God and Sex. What the Bible Really Says (1st ed.). New York, Boston: Twelve. Hachette Book Group. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-446-54525-9. http://books.google.nl/books?id=2_gPKQEACAAJ&dq=god+and+sex&hl=nl&ei=4fbCTaPKDpGXOrq88Z0I&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAQ. Retrieved May 5, 2011. 
  17. ^ Deuteronomy 21:15–17 from mechon-mamre.org
  18. ^ Judaica Press Complete Tanach, Devarim - Chapter 17 from Chabad.org
  19. ^ Women, similar to wives from vadimcherny.org
  20. ^ "The Jewish Family: Metaphor and Memory", David Charles Kraemer, p21, Oxford University Press US, 1989, ISBN 0195054679
  21. ^ Judaism and Polygamy: "Originally, Gershom's ban was limited in time to the year 1260," and a man "could marry more than one wife if he obtained the special permission of 100 rabbis in 3 countries." From faqs.org
  22. ^ Eglash, Ruth (2008-10-30). "Israel 2008: State of Polygamy". Fr.jpost.com. http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1225199601867&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  23. ^ Aburabia, Sarab. "Victims of polygamy". Haaretz.com. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1027756.html. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  24. ^ Polygamy's Practice Stirs Debate in Israel
  25. ^ Navon, Emmanuel (2006-03-16). "Kosher Sex Without Marriage, a Jerusalem Post article that discusses Jacob Emden's and Tzvi Zohar's views". Jpost.com. http://www.jpost.com/JewishWorld/JewishFeatures/Article.aspx?id=16328. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  26. ^ "Tzvi Zohar's comprehensive academic research on the subject, Akdamot Journal for Jewish Thought 17, 2003, Beit Morasha Press (in Hebrew)" (PDF). http://pilegeshpersonals.com/Pilegesh%20Tzvi%20Zohar.pdf. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  27. ^ On Marriage and Concupiscence,I,10
  28. ^ Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, ch. 20; cf. On Marriage and Concupiscence,I,10
  29. ^ St. Augustin On the Good of Marriage, ch.17; cf. On Marriage and Concupiscence,I,9.8
  30. ^ On the Good of Marriage, ch.1
  31. ^ On the Good of Marriage, ch.3
  32. ^ On the Good of Marriage, 17
  33. ^ Augustine, On the Good of Marriage, ch. 7
  34. ^ The Digital Nestle-Aland lists only one manuscript (P46) as source of the verse, while nine other manuscripts have no such verse, cf. http://nttranscripts.uni-muenster.de/AnaServer?NTtranscripts+0+start.anv
  35. ^ "The Ratzinger report: an exclusive interview on the state of the Church Pope Benedict XVI, Vittorio Messori", p. 195, Ignatius Press, 1985, ISBN 0898700809
  36. ^ "Morality: The Case for Polygamy", Time Magazine, May 10, 1968, time.com and "Christianity and the African imagination: essays in honour of Adrian Hastings", edited by David Maxwell with Ingrid Lawrie, p. 345-346, Brill, 2002, ISBN 9004116680
  37. ^ Catholic Cathechism, para. 2387 April 05, 2009, Vatican website
  38. ^ Letter to Philip of Hesse, December 10, 1539, De Wette-Seidemann, 6:238–244
  39. ^ The Life of Luther Written by Himself, p.251. http://books.google.com/books?id=ojwMAAAAIAAJ&vid=OCLC24799826&dq=%22The+Life+of+Luther+Written+by+Himself%22&jtp=251. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  40. ^ James Bowling Mozley Essays, Historical and Theological. 1:403–404 Excerpts from Der Beichtrat. books.google.com
  41. ^ Letter to the Chancellor Gregor Brück, January 13, 1524, De Wette 2:459.
  42. ^ Larry O. Jensen, A Genealogical Handbook of German Research (Rev. Ed., 1980) p. 59.
  43. ^ Joseph Alfred X. Michiels, Secret History of the Austrian Government and of its Systematic Persecutions of Protestants (London: Chapman and Hall, 1859) p. 85 (copy at Google Books), the author stating that he is quoting from a copy of the legislation.
  44. ^ William Walker Rockwell, Die Doppelehe des Landgrafen Philipp von Hessen (Marburg, 1904), p. 280, n. 2 (copy at Google Books), which reports the number of wives allowed was two.
  45. ^ Leonhard Theobald, “Der angebliche Bigamiebeschluß des fränkischen Kreistages” [“The So-called Bigamy Decision of the Franconian Kreistag”], Beitrage zur Bayerischen kirchengeschichte [Contributions to Bavarian Church History] 23 (1916 – bound volume dated 1917) Erlangen: 199–200 (Theobald reporting that the Franconian Kreistag did not hold session between 1645 and 1664, and that there is no record of such a law in the extant archives of Nürnberg, Ansbach, or Bamberg, Theobald believing that the editors of the Fränkisches Archiv must have misunderstood a draft of some other legislation from 1650).
  46. ^ Alfred Altmann, "Verein für Geschichte der Stadt Nürnburg," Jahresbericht über das 43 Vereinsjahr 1920 [Annual Report for the 43rd Year 1920 of the Historical Society of the City of Nuremberg] (Nürnberg 1920): 13–15 (Altmann reporting a lecture he had given discussing the polygamy permission said to have been granted in Nuremberg in 1650, Altmann characterizing the Fränkisches Archiv as "merely a popular journal, not an edition of state documents," and describing the tradition as "a literary fantasy").
  47. ^ See Heinrich Christoph Büttner, Johann Heinrich Keerl, und Johann Bernhard Fischer. Fränkisches Archiv, herausgegeben. I Band. 1790. (at p. 155) (setting forth a 1790 printing of the legislation).
  48. ^ "Emblems of pluralism: cultural differences and the state, Cultural lives of law, Princeton paperbacks,Carol Weisbrod, p. 53, Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN 0691089256
  49. ^ Fisher, Helen (2000). The First Sex. Ballantine Books. pp. 271–72, 276. ISBN 0-449-91260-4. 
  50. ^ "Law of the Land" page at BiblicalPolygamy.com
  51. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 132 as found at lds.org
  52. ^ Three nights public discussion between the Revds. C. W. Cleeve, James Robertson, and Philip Cater, and Elder John Taylor, Of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, At Boulogne-Sur-Mer, France. Chairman, Rev. K. Groves, M.A., Assisted By Charles Townley, LL.D., and Mr. Luddy. pp. 8–9
  53. ^ Greiner & Sherman, Revised Laws of Illinois, 1833, pp. 198–199
  54. ^ Todd Compton, "A Trajectory of Plurality: An Overview of Joseph Smith's Thirty-three Plural Wives", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 1–38.
  55. ^ Smith, George D (Spring 1994). "Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841-46: A Preliminary Demographic Report". Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (1). http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=%2Fdialogue&CISOPTR=15882&REC=3&CISOBOX=42. Retrieved 2007-05-12 
  56. ^ Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 423, February 1, 1844
  57. ^ Lifting the Veil of Polygamy (2007, Main Street Church) A documentary concerning the history of Mormon polygamy and its modern manifestations.
  58. ^ Journal of Discourses 11:128 Brigham Young - June 18, 1865 - "Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout Christendom, and which had been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious."
  59. ^ GOP Convention of 1856 in Philadelphia from the Independence Hall Association website
  60. ^ "Free Exercise Clause - First Amendment". Caselaw.lp.findlaw.com. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/05.html. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  61. ^ Reynolds v. United States at findlaw.com
  62. ^ Polygamy entry in the Utah Historical Encyclopedia, University of Utah, 1994.
  63. ^ "The Primer" - Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities. A joint report from the offices of the Attorneys General of Arizona and Utah. (2006)
  64. ^ "An 1886 Revelation to John Taylor". Mormonfundamentalism.com. http://www.mormonfundamentalism.com/NEWFILES/1886RevelationNew.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  65. ^ "LDS splinter groups growing" by Brooke Adams, August 9, 2005 - SLT Article ID: 10BF07C805DE5990
  66. ^ Alexandra Silver What the Bible Has to Say About Sex Time.com
  67. ^ "IslamWeb". IslamWeb. 2002-02-07. http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=A&Id=18444&Option=FatwaId. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  68. ^ "Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has urged Sudanese men to take more than one wife to increase the population". BBC News. 2001-08-15. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/1493309.stm. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  69. ^ "Sex Offenses: Consensual - Bigamy". Law Library - American Law and Legal Information. http://law.jrank.org/pages/2102/Sex-Offenses-Consensual-Bigamy.html. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
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  74. ^ "Nigerian faces death for 86 wives". BBC News. 2008-08-21. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7574757.stm. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  75. ^ South Africa Polygamy debate
  76. ^ Jacob Zuma's three first ladies, BBC, May 10, 2009
  77. ^ Hundreds arrive in village for Zuma's fifth wedding - ABC Online, January 4, 2010
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  79. ^ The Legacy Lingers On: Research Fellow, University of California, Berkeley
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  81. ^ France, Agence. "Most Malaysian youths reject polygamy: poll". News.ph.msn.com. http://news.ph.msn.com/regional/article.aspx?cp-documentid=5037881. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
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  87. ^ A research on Thai view of sexuality and sexual behavior funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted jointly by the Institute of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University and Mahidol University, Bangkok, the Population Studies Center, University of Michigan and the Department of Sociology, University of Washington.
  88. ^ Hong Kong, article by Man-Lun Ng, M.D.; part of "The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality" Volume I – IV 1997–2001, Edited by Robert T. Francoeur
  89. ^ Graeme Lang, Josephine Smart (2002). "Migration and the "second wife" in South China: Toward cross-border polygamy". The International Migration Review 36 (5): 546–569. 
  90. ^ Hong Kong Targets Its Two-Family Men, Kevin Murphy, International Herald Tribune, Tuesday, February 7, 1995
  91. ^ ACLU of Utah to Join Polygamists in Bigamy Fight, 16 July 1999 press release.
  92. ^ "Polygamy vs. Democracy" The Weekly Standard, June 5, 2006
  93. ^ a b c d Fest, Joachim C. (1973). Hitler. Verlagg Ulstein. p. 686. ISBN 0156027542. 
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  95. ^ Whitehurst, Lindsey (July 13, 2011). "'Sister Wives' polygamy lawsuit tackles privacy in Utah". The Salt Lake Tribune. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/sports/52182460-78/turley-browns-family-privacy.html.csp. Retrieved July 14, 2011. 


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • polygamy — po·lyg·a·my /pə li gə mē/ n: the offense of having several and specif. more than two spouses at one time compare bigamy po·lyg·a·mous / məs/ adj Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • Polygamy — Po*lyg a*my, n. [Gr. ?; cf. F. polygamie.] 1. The having of a plurality of wives or husbands at the same time; usually, the marriage of a man to more than one woman, or the practice of having several wives, at the same time; opposed to monogamy;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • polygamy — (n.) 1590s, from L.L. polygamia, from Late Gk. polygamia polygamy, from polygamos often married, from polys many + gamos marriage (see GAMETE (Cf. gamete)). Not etymologically restricted to marriage of one man and multiple women (technically… …   Etymology dictionary

  • polygamy — polygamy. См. полигамия. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • polygamy — [n] plural marriage bigamy, polyandry, polygyny; concepts 297,388 …   New thesaurus

  • polygamy — ► NOUN ▪ the practice or custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. DERIVATIVES polygamist noun polygamous adjective. ORIGIN from Greek polugamos often marrying …   English terms dictionary

  • polygamy — [pə lig′ə mē, pōlig′ə mē] n. [Fr polygamie < Gr polygamia: see POLY & GAMY] 1. the state or practice of having two or more spouses at the same time; plural marriage 2. Zool. the practice of mating with more than one of the opposite sex… …   English World dictionary

  • polygamy — /peuh lig euh mee/, n. 1. the practice or condition of having more than one spouse, esp. wife, at one time. Cf. bigamy (def. 1), monogamy (def. 1). 2. Zool. the habit or system of mating with more than one individual, either simultaneously or… …   Universalium

  • polygamy — /paligsmiy/ The offense of having several wives or husbands at the same time, or more than one wife or husband at the same time. Bigamy literally means a second marriage distinguished from a third or other; while polygamy means many marriages,… …   Black's law dictionary

  • polygamy — noun /pəˈlɪgəmi/ a) The having of a plurality of socially bonded sexual partners at the same time Originally polygamy could work either or both ways, but civilisation generally forbids simultaneous husbands b) Commonly used specifically for… …   Wiktionary

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