Friday, December 2, 2011

POLYGYNY in New York, USA - Part I

Yes, polygyny is rampantly being practiced in New York and yes, it is illegal in the United States but hardly prosecuted. Unlike the Mormons in Utah who overtly live out this life style, the West African immigrant population in New York live quietly under these arrangements.

What exactly is polygyny and what is the difference (if any) between polygyny, polygamy and polyandry? According to Webster's dictionary polygyny is the "state of having more than one wife or female mates at one time".  Polygamy is "marriage in which a spouse of either sex may have more than one mate at the same time". Polyandry is the "state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time". More often than not polygamy is used when referring to polygyny.

In a couple of previous blogs in June 2011, I discussed/presented the argument that polygamy (more so polygyny) made economic sense - at least in many of the developing countries particularly in Africa. In New York, however, this practice does not only make no economic sense it make NO SENSE at all.

Aminata Kante left her husband after he took a second wife.
Source: Shiho Fukada of the New York Times
Most of these men who are taking up more than one wife can hardly take care of the one they have and the children. Many fall in the low-income bracket and taking up additional wives makes their financial obligations more challenging. Yet, the men have no problem taking up another young girl and having her bear more children for him. Some of the women advocate for this practice arguing that it is an acceptable and required African practice. Those who reject and fight are in the minority and suffer harshly both within their communities in New York and among their relatives in their home countries.

According to Nina Bernstein of the New York Times, it is not known how prevalent polygyny is in New York because it is kept as a secret by those who practice it. Under immigration law, polygamy is grounds for deportation and exclusion from the United States.  The problem becomes more complex because some men have one wife in the United States and others abroad... much like President Barack Obama's father who had wives in Kenya, Finland and the United States.

Contd ... Part II

1 comment:

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