argument top image

Should polygamy in relationships be decriminalized?
Back to question

Polygamy harms women

It is often the case that women suffer emotional and physical abuse in polygynous relationships. This abuse manifests in multiple ways, primarily in competing with co-wives which takes an emotional toll on women in the relationship and leads to emotional health issues such as depression.
< (1 of 1)

The Argument

Polygamous relationships can take on different forms. Polygynous relationships are those where there is one male who has multiple women. In contrast, polyandrous relationships are those in which a female has multiple male partners. Women in the first type of relationship are more likely to experience emotional abuse, often due to the lack of control over their husband’s addition of new partners. That said, polygynous households often feature conflict among co-wives which results in a discordant family dynamic. [1] However, wives may experience abuse from their husbands too. This also negatively affects their self-esteem and emotional health which can lead to depression as they feel powerless. [2] Furthermore, there is doubt concerning consent within polygynous marriages due to socio-economic factors that influence the decisions of women entering these marriages. For example, young women in Mormon fundamentalist communities often feel pressured to enter polygamous relationships with men who have many wives. They often feel obliged to stay in these relationships due to the financial stability that is afforded to them and also out of fear of being ostracized by their community. [3] So, polygamy should not be legalised as there is ample evidence demonstrating how polygynous relationships harm women in cultures where it is common practice. Decriminalizing it would legitimize the emotional and physical abuse that women suffer when having to co-exist with other wives and their husband.

Counter arguments

The same can’t be said for polyandrous relationships which demonstrates that not all polygamous relationships are harmful to women. In a polyandrous union, the woman would be the sole female in the relationship and thus would not have to compete with co-wives. A feminist perspective on polyamorous relationships is that a woman ultimately should make her own choice, and if she chooses to be in a polygamous relationship then that should be respected and has the right to be recognised. [4]



Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 26 Nov 2020 at 23:46 UTC