Iraq toys with polygamy as solution for war widows

Years of conflict in Iraq have left the country with more than one million war widows and a shortage of young unmarried men – pressures that may be bringing about the return of polygamy.

Politicians have suggested financial incentives for men who marry widows.

Hanan lost eight members of her family in the war, including her husband, and was left to bring up three children alone.

The experience has not broken her. She continues to work as a hairdresser in her noisy and lively home on Haifa Street in Baghdad.

But she still needs a “man-shelter”, she says – and this is why she ended up married to a married man.

“When he proposed to me, he said he was divorced,” she says.

“But after we got married, he got back together with his first wife, because he has children with her.”

He now stays with Hanan once a week. But while she has only reluctantly accepted a situation where she shares a husband with another woman, some in Iraq are actively promoting the idea of polygamy.

Dignity
It’s a practice that became less common in the 20th Century, but politicians put forward a proposal last year to offer married men financial incentives to take on a second wife.

In Iraq’s largest province, Anbar, a charity called Angel of Mercy has been helping widows remarry for the last four years. Dozens of marriages have been completed, with the widows often marrying their husband’s relatives.

Women’s leaders are divided on the subject.

Nada Ibrahim, a member of parliament, supports the idea of polygamous marriage in principle – as long as a husband treats his wives “with justice”.

However, she also believes that the government should provide more support for widows, to make it easier for them to survive without men.

“Widows are often young and don’t have jobs, health insurance or social security. We shouldn’t encourage them only to get married,” she says.

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3 replies

  1. This is an outstanding proof of needing more information for every one who whants to contact other lonly woman in this place. Somebody has to give some more details about how to communicate to widows, single muslim girls who can has to help to them or marries them

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