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So You Want to Marry a Second Wife?: Advice from A Man with More Than One Wife

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Editor’s Note: After the publication of my reflection on CBC’s documentary about polygamy among Muslims in Canada, we have received numerous responses from Muslim Canadians whose lives have been impacted by polygamy in Canada in both positive, but mostly negative ways.

The particularly destructive aspect of how polygamy is being practiced in Canada among Muslims based on these responses seems to be the secrecy aspect, which disturbingly some Muslim religious leaders are facilitating and even actively encouraging. This is often just turning polygamy into as spiritually abusive form of religiously sanctioned adultery that is negatively impacting all women (first and second wives) and children (of first and second wives) involved. We have also learned of situations where a man is forced by his family to take a second wife because his parents disapprove of his first wife for any number of reasons (they didn’t choose her, his mother no longer likes her, she’s not the right nationality, ethnicity, skin tone, caste, race etc).

Over the coming months, we will be finding ways to share these stories.

The first story we have chosen to share is that of “A Man with More than One Wife”. This was one of the most unexpected responses we received but it looks like some Muslim Canadian men could really benefit from getting some advice from men who have more than one wife in the interest of preventing some of the harms we are seeing happen as many men in Muslim Canadian communities pursue polygamy in ways that far more resemble “taking a mistress with the help of an imam whose services you pay for”, than really MARRYING other women as WIVES and becoming part of each other’s respective families.

Yes, we understand that polygamy is illegal in Canada and we are not encouraging anyone to violate Canadian laws.

However, we also know that Muslims are practicing polygamy in Canada and the practice is increasing, particularly among young first and second generation Muslims (40 and under). Based on the responses we have received, we already have a second generation of Canadian born children entering adulthood who are the products of polygamous marriages made in Canada, so not discussing this reality just exacerbates the problem, it doesn’t solve it.

The writer of this piece has chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect his family. He is South Asian Canadian, based in the Greater Toronto Area.

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