Sunday, January 5th 2003

More wives the merrier say men,
as women plot polygamy curbs

By Hazlin Hassan

Muslim men seem increasingly keen on polygamy, just as women's groups are plotting how to curb husbands' rights to as many as four wives.
One politician a male is so enthusiastic about the practice that he wants women who allow their husbands to marry a second wife to receive medals of honour.
Women, however, don't seem too keen on the medals.
"We want the legal system to restrict the practice of polygamy," Ruzana Udin, the spokesperson for Sisters In Islam (SIS), told AFP.
But it will be an uphill battle.
The Perlis state government has announced that it will do away with the need to obtain a first wife's written consent to a second marriage to stop men flocking across the border to marry again in less-restrictive Thailand.
The Minister of Women and Family Development, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, called the move an insult to women.
Another state, Terengganu, is preparing to issue legislators with undated letters authorising them to take another wife at any time.
That idea seems to have left the women speechless with rage, while men who are not elected representatives might be wondering why they are left out of such an easing of the rules.
Although Syariah laws vary from state to state, they generally require the signed consent of a man's first wife before he is allowed to take a second.
And while Islam permits a man to marry four wives, he has to prove he has the financial means and ability to treat all wives equally.
Malaysian men often try to escape these strict requirements and get hitched in the Muslim parts of southern Thailand without any such fuss.