ERITREA has passed a new law that that threatens men with life imprisonment if they dare to marry less than two wives as part of a programme to address the growing gap between the number of women available compared with their male counterparts.
Like many countries that have endured long wars, Eritrea lost a lot of men on the battlefield, so its female population has outstripped that of the men. Worried about the number of unmarried women this has left in society, the government has decided to act by ordering men to marry more than one wife.
In a new decree just published by the dictatorial government, Eritrean men are being threatened with jail unless they marry more than one wife. According to a statement issued by the government, men should marry at least two wives due to acute shortage of men caused by enormous casualties suffered during the civil war with Ethiopia.
Written in Arabic the government statement gave the assurances that it would give financial support to these polygamous marriages. Between May 1998 and June 2000 the Eritrean-Ethiopian war saw 150,000 soldiers killed from either sides but the death toll had a bigger impact on tiny Eritrea, a small nation which has a population of only 4m people in total.
“Based on the law of God in polygamy and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean Department of Religious Affairs has decided on the following. First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labour.
“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment,” the government statement added –