Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Polygamy becomes one of the biggest reasons of poverty and human trafficking in Africa


IllustrationIllustration - After being married for 21 years with six children, Joyce's husband married his second wife and took her home without talks or prior notice. At 38 years old, Joyce who married at the age of 17 without education or any expertise, have to share her home and her husband with another women who are almost half of their age.

"I am very dependent to my husband. I have no choice but to accept and remain silent" said Joyce, who is now 58, in the office of the women's rights foundation on the outskirts of Nairobi. "Everything changed after the new wife moved home. He was no longer love us. There were no more money, clothes and toys for me and y children. Her new wife and her children took everything, my children did not even finish high school."

Because she was unable to make ends meet, Joyce wedded her daughters before she turned 18. Her sons dropped out of school to work as child laborers to help families.

Having more than one wife is common thing in a quarter of the world, especially in conservative African societies which dominated by men and Muslim-majority countries where polygamy is part of tradition or religion.

Activists say most polygamous marriages in Kenya and other African countries are causing poverty because husbands abandon his old wife and her children to live for her new wife. This behavior makes thousands of women and children become poor and vulnerable of exploitation.

Kenya's most recent Population and Housing Census mentioned nearly 1.5 million Kenyans or 10 percent of married couples doing polygamy. But women activist groups say this figure is far from the actual number because the practice of polygamy is part of the tradition and is not registered.

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