Monday, December 5, 2011

POLYGYNY in New York, USA - Part II

President Zuma of South Africa and his three wives
While a good number of these polygamous families are living together in small apartments in the Bronx with many children with incidences of domestic violence and conflict among the co-wives, there are a few noted families that do not fit this description. There are those who live in the suburbs whose husbands are wealthy enough to keep a happy set of co-wives and their children, providing for all their  basic needs.

Although Islam allows a man to have up to four wives, polygyny in Africa is a cultural practice that crosses religious lines and men tend to have more than four wives. Having multiple wives indicates a mans wealth and is also a strong indicator of his virility as well as need for sexual satisfaction. Most of the wealthy men in Africa own large pieces of land and the family was a way of reducing labor costs. It is also important to point out that in a culture where infant mortality is ridiculously high, polygyny assures the continuation of the man's family.

The immigrant community in New York may want to continue the practices from their home countries but the set back is that the men have no assets for the multiple children to inherit. They are unable to provide the basic necessities for their families forcing them to lean on welfare and therefore tax-payers. A number of these families have migrated to the United States as polygamous families but since the U.S. does not recognize this marital status, only one wife gets the visa or green-card. The other co-wives are, therefore, undocumented illegal aliens and God-forbid if they fall out of favor with their husbands and are divorced, they are vulnerable to deportation.

While researching this story, I came across a video of an interview done by ABC TV on the same issue but this time the people practicing polygyny are African American (see below). This then begs the question; how many other polygamous marriages are in the United States outside of the Mormon communities?

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