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Opinions of Sunday, 8 August 2010

Columnist: Augustrian

Should Our Women Engage In Polygamy?

There was a time--not so long ago, when a man's social status wasn't only measured upon the quantity of his Earthly possessions but also on the number of his wives. At that time, having multiple wives was considered the epitome of a man's generosity. As a result, polygamy became the trend to follow by most married men. Men took upon themselves as many wives as possible. Multiple wives, of course, meant many children. During those days of old, children became synonymous to wealth. For a man, fathering many children meant that he could look forward to the future without having to worry. For sure, he would be taken care of by--at least, one of his children. Those days, without a doubt, may have been good to the men--our fathers. The women, on the other hand, had a different story to tell. For instance; back in those days, a woman couldn't choose whom she wanted to marry. Absolutely not--something like this was unheard of. It was always the other way around. The man of the house, in this case the father of the girl, decided on behalf of her daughter. The daughter, of course, had nothing to say--her father's decision was final.

Unlike today's world--in which love seems to be the reason why people do go into marriage, those days were quite different. Marriage, back then, had nothing whatsoever to do with love. A daughter was given away into marriage in exchange for Earthly comforts. Mind you, the prettier the daughter, the higher the bargain for her hand. An ugly daughter was considered a curse to her parents. Simply because; an ugly daughter couldn't be given away into marriage with ease. As a result, they were given away as maidservants to serve their sisters, who had found better luck with men. Of course, there were instances--in which a married sister would prove to be barren. In this case, the maidservant would be called upon by her sister's husband to serve as her sister's womb. Later, if both of them are proven to be barren, then both sisters become a liability to the man's household. Both of them would be treated with scorn and contempt. In fact, the scorn and contempt could be so great that most of these women would commit suicide. Their husbands, on the other hand, wouldn't mourn their deaths. After all, these barren women proved their uselessness in their inability to give birth.

Today, Ghana may not be like how it used to be, when polygamy was in full fashion. This does indicate--by no means, that polygamy has faded in its entirety from our country. It's still here, it's still being practiced--it's still accepted. It seems to me that our country, albeit modern, doesn't see anything wrong with this archaic institution. Now, I am liberalist. I believe in a society--which practices and preaches equality. Also, I believe in a society--in which the rights and freedoms of the individual are respected and preserved. For years, men have been practicing polygamy without societal condemnation. Our socio-moralists have, in fact, sealed their lips on polygamy. As a liberalist, it would be hypocritical of me to call for the ban on polygamy. Polygamy, to me, is both personal and a civil right. It's a decision, which an individual could only make for him/herself. So, I wont dare. Evidentially, all through the ages, polygamy has been something for the men. Women have never engaged in polygamy. But then, women were perceived as men's possession. Gender equality, till now, was something unheard of. Anyway, the times have changed--polygamy is still here, and so is gender equality and rights.

So, my question is; as a progressive country, how prepared are we to accept a Ghanaian woman with multiple husbands without calling her a whore? Better yet, should our women engage in polygamy?