Morocco: New law limits polygamy, says expert - 26 May 2008

Rabat. Polygamist marriages are almost non-existent in Morocco due to new legal restrictions, said a leading commentator on Tuesday. "Polygamy still exists in Morocco even though it is almost impossible to find polygamous men because of strict legal limitations," said Rita el-Khayat, writer and anthropologist in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Although polygamy is allowed under Islam, it is not encouraged.

The only instance where polygamist marriages can be legal, is if the woman signs a document giving her consent, said el-Khayat, referring to the situation in Morocco.

"Nowadays, the man has more to lose if he divorces, because he is forced to divide his assets with both wives.

"This means Moroccan men are afraid of engaging in a polygamist marriage, because they almost feel imprisoned, or trapped by this new system."

Al-Khayat, who is in Italy promoting her new book, Between Witness and Reality, said many women emigrated to Europe because they were poor and under Islamic patriarchy.

Earlier this year, the president of Italy's Immigrant Party, Mustapha Mansouri, urged women who were victims of polygamy to call a special helpline for victims of violence, saying that "There are at least 15,000 cases of polygamy in Italy."

Mansouri and his colleagues have for years reported cases of men who converted to Islam with the sole aim of being able to have several wives.

Polygamous marriages are totally illegal in Italy, but imams presiding over such 'ceremonies' leave no paper trail to avoid prosecution, Mansouri noted.

Al-Khayat, 63, thinks that more attention should be paid to the younger, second generation immigrants and that they should focus on the scientific field.

In 1999, al-Khayat became the first woman to write a letter to King Mohammed VI, four months after he had been inaugurated, about (...)

Categories: MaroccoWomen`s rights