The South African government’s plan to allow women to have several spouses has sparked intense debate across the country.
South Africa already has one of the world’s most liberal constitutions, which allows both genders to marry and males to have several spouses. Gender rights activists have petitioned the government to legalise polyandrous unions (women who have more than one husband) in the name of equality and choice.
The legalisation of polyandry has now been proposed in a green paper issued by the Department of Home Affairs in an effort to broaden the definition of marriage.
Conservatives and religious organisations are outraged by the idea, which is part of a larger government push to alter the country’s Marriage Act.
Musa Mseleku, a TV personality with four wives, told the BBC that he is vehemently opposed to polyandry. “This would mean the extinction of African civilisation. What about the children of those people? How will they be able to identify them? A woman can no longer take on the role of a man. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Will he be forced to take her surname?”