women, men teens,
United States of America

I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
The economic case for polygamy.
By Tim HarfordPosted Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006, at 2:27 AM ET

After more than a decade of war between separatist rebels and the Russian army, there are not many marriageable men to go around in Chechnya. So, acting Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, probably not a feminist, proposed a radical step: "Each man who can provide for four wives should do it."

Polygyny (having more than one wife, as opposed to polygamy, which is having more than one spouse) is admissible under Islamic law but not Russian law, so Kadyrov is unlikely to make much progress with his proposal. But what difference would such a law make? It's natural to assume that polygyny is bad for women, partly because most of us would rather have our spouse to ourselves, and partly because we look at a place like Saudi Arabia, where polygyny is not uncommon, and note that women aren't even allowed to drive. I'm not quite so convinced. A lot of the knee-jerk reactions against polygyny are from people who can't add up.

In a society with equal numbers of men and women, each man with four wives gives women the additional pick of three men—the poor saps whose potential wives decided they'd prefer one-quarter of a billionaire instead. In the Sahel region of Africa, half of all women live in polygynous households. The other half have a good choice of men and a lot more bargaining power.

Economist Kerwin Charles has recently studied the plight of these women. Their problem is not merely that some who would want to marry won't be able to. It's that the available men—those not in prison—suddenly have more bargaining power. Goodbye to doing the dishes and paying the rent; hello to mistresses and wham, bam, thank you ma'am. The women whose potential partners have had their ranks thinned by prison are less likely to marry, and when they do marry, are likely to marry a man less educated than they are.

Meanwhile, the remaining men, finding a surfeit of marriage partners, suddenly seem in no hurry to marry. And why would they?

Help promote the action for free choice of polygamy, meaning BOTH a man and his wife must agree to one. The choice should be with the individuals. Men must ask and provide proof of the 1 wife's permission to allow her husband to marry another woman, and if he takes another he must ask and procure permission from both previous.

No more than 3 should be allowed in order to make sure all wives and children can be properly taken care of. No man can marry a woman under 18yrs of age, and just like today's law no man or woman can marry any person closer than 5th cousin if by blood, non blood may be waived in the case of direct in-laws only.

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The Promote controled polygamy in America petition to women, men teens, was written by mandalyn and is in the category Culture at GoPetition.