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Opinion: In Polyandry Lies the Power of Choice

Much of South Africa's ongoing debate about women having more than one husband is peppered with falsehoods, fallacies and the refusal to allow women to enjoy similar freedoms to their male counterparts.

Earlier this month, the South African government released a Green Paper, a policy discussion paper open for public comment, that seeks to amend the current Marriage Act. The Green Paper proposes the legal recognition of polyandry, defined as the act of women having more than one husband. Presently, only polygyny is recognised under the law, as is the case in numerous other African countries across the continent.

And while polyandry is practised in certain parts of Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Kenya, the mere mention of it has sparked controversy and debate among many South Africans. Admittedly, some of it has been rather amusing with quips about women being worse off with two men given the [redacted] quality of South African men already. Jokes aside! Much of the pushback against polyandry, from citizens, cultural and religious leaders as well as politicians, has unveiled the double standards often ascribed to relationships that typically cater to heterosexual men.

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