Recently I saw a documentary. I tend to favour Channel 4 over most channels because they produce really quirky, thought provoking, controversial programmes – just the stuff I like! This documentary was beyond anything I’ve ever seen and to be honest, I was surprised that it happens in the UK. It was called: “Men with Many Wives” and was centred around the trials and tribulations of men who had more than one wife and their children both in the UK and abroad. One man had 3 wives; 2 in the UK and 1 in Morocco with their 2 children, whom he only saw every 7 – 9 months.
Polygamy is something I didn’t know too much about it or why people chose to have multiple wives. The first thing that sprang to mind was that TV show “Sister Wives” which was a bit full on for me. However, it is interesting to note that the documentary didn’t mention or show cases of polyandry (women having multiple husbands). For those in the know, it is illegal to practise polgamy under British law, yet over 20,000 polygamous marriages exist in the UK.
I generally have a “live and let live” attitude with regards to what people get up to in their private lives – as long as it’s not illegal and/or causing harm to others. There were aspects of the documentary that I found interesting, valid, infuriating and unacceptable – all at once! My main beef with it was that the reasons for polygamous marriage largely came from a male perspective and what they were doing is illegal under British law.
When the director Masood Khan asked why these men practised polygamy their responses ranged from: “It makes a nice, big family” to “…wanting companionship” and “polygamy is something normal in Africa and many parts of the world” to “looking after and protecting women.” One man went as far as comparing his wife to “a nice car that you cover up so that other people don’t desire or want it.” This didn’t sit too well with me – especially the last point.
Over 20,000 polygamous marriages exist in the UK
I personally believe that marriage is something undertaken by 2 people who want to dedicate their lives to each other and raise a family; to me it’s not just a romance thing (though that might help). If you want to be committed to multiple partners, it’s called an open relationship. It’s all well and good wanting a nice big family, but there needs to be financial, emotional and mental stability in order for both people to provide for their children. With a sky high living costs and dwindling salaries, it is important for people to be able to look after themselves and their families. In the programme, most of the men were unable to adequately provide for their wives and their children which made me question why they wanted more than one wife. It’s all very well and good saying that you want a big family, companionship etc, but if you cannot sustain or look after your family sufficiently, then there’s no point having more than one wife and having lots of kids – it’s not fair on them.