Polygamy or Prostitution?
- :al-Hajj Ahmad H. Sheriff
"IN A SURVEY to find out the cause of the increase of prostitution and continued marriage breakages in Nyeri District, I have discovered various reasons. But one that caught my attention is that women out-numbered men.
"It will be interesting to note that except in very few families, girls are more than boys in most cases; 5-3, 4-3, 2-l, 6-2, 4-1 and so on. These figures indicate that women are, roughly, two thirds of the country's population. "Normally, it is a boy that approaches a girl when he considers it fit to marry her; a girl simply waits to be consulted by anyone who may be interested in her.
"It is a common belief, especially in Christian circles, that the system of `one man, one wife' should be maintained. That would mean that `one half' of girls would never be married. The Church has remained mute as to where the half of the girl population should go.
"The Church teaches that the Bible directs a man should have, one wife. Yet we know of some holy men in the Bible that were poly gamous. There seems to exist some contradic48 tions, anyway.
"Indeed, people appreciate present Government efforts to control human population by introducing Family Planning services; they com mend some religious institutions, for example Muhammedans, who allow polygamy to their followers.
"Through experience, we now know that although the system of `one man, one wife'- is aimed at having peaceful families, a good many families in this category have not justified the situation. Some have even divorced or are separated.
"We cannot deny that `one half of the girls' (or even more) are without husbands. We have not been able to direct them on how to face life - especially as we arc already aware that life is too brutal to them. Particularly when the majority of young girls lack skills to enable them earn a living.
"The Church priests, the peasants, the economists, the administrators and others quietly admit that the unmarried women should struggle to survive even if it is by prostitution, perhaps (?). `It is time,' one man told me, `that the Christian churches examined the present state of affairs and relax the `one man, one wife' rule to help save the situation now facing the world.' "And one Christian woman told me: `I won't mind being a second wife of a man I love.
Life becomes hopeless when a woman doesn't have a man's protection. It is better than remaining unmarried.'
"Said a known prostitute: `When I got my baby boy and took five years without getting married, day to day problems pushed me towards prostitution. I have no choice; I can be second or third wife if consulted. Life has been very insecure.'
"One Christian minister told me that although he agreed that polygamy would reduce prostitution to a certain degree, he does not believe that it would serve the situation fully. He maintains further that with family planning, the problem would be saved in future. He had no answer as to what would be done to the problem at present.
"In general, the majority of the people I have talked to - married or not - want the Church to reconsider its stand so that people can be free to choose between polygamy and monogamy, depending on one's wealth." (Sunday Post, Nairobi)
And with this quotation, I close this booklet, hoping that the readers will fully appreciate.
Adapted from the book: "Why Polygamy is Allowed in Islam?" by: "al-Hajj Ahmad H. Sheriff"
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