by Akuoma Joshua
Recently we have been hearing news about western countries openly condemning the decision of the Nigerian government to ban homosexuality. The United States has even gone to the extent of threatening to impose sanctions on Nigeria and top officials of the United Nations have aired their disapproval of the anti-gay bill. Now I personally have nothing against homosexuality, for all I care it is none of my business what two adults choose to do in the comfort of their privacy. I don’t even have a problem with other countries trying to pressure a government violating the human rights of it’s people, but what I do have a problem with is with the concept of human rights and the hypocrisy of the Western world in their definition and usage of the term.
What exactly are human rights? Human rights are the fundamental rights all humans are entitled to. According to the Declaration of Human Rights in the United Nations website, all humans are entitled to the right to expression, peaceful association, consensual marriage, privacy and nondiscrimination. This obviously means Nigeria is violating the basic globally accepted human rights that it is meant to be protecting, but it also means America and other western countries are violating it too. How? By illegalizing polygamy.
Yes! Criminalizing polygamous marriages is a violation of the rights of those who want to engage in it. It is a violation of their rights to expression, peaceful association, consensual marriage, privacy and nondiscrimination. Tell me, why should it be a crime to marry multiple partners or a partner who is already married as long as all spouses involved consent to it? It makes absolutely no sense to criminalize it.
But those who say it does justify their stance by saying it violates the institution of marriage, they say marriage should be an act between two people. In all sincerity, who are we to define the institution of marriage? Is there any universal law or belief system which says it should be between only two people? Were we not the same people who said it should be an act between a man and woman only? It would be sheer hypocrisy to revoke laws which have oppressed a minority and set other laws which further oppress another minority.
In all honesty, the institution of marriage need not have such strict guidelines, it is an act of love and commitment between two people. Numbers do not have to be involved as much as popular culture now agrees that gender should not be involved. Therefore, whether you like it or not, saying polygamy violates the sacredness of marriage is oppressive as saying homosexuality violates the sacredness of marriage.
Another argument against polygamy is that it violates the dignity and honour of the spouses involved, i.e., the spouses sharing a partner. First and foremost, the violation of human dignity is a very subjective concept, it varies through cultures. Those involved in consensual polygamous marriages do not think it is degrading and some even find it refreshing and uplifting. Because you think a particular practice is degrading does not mean all others should conform to your definition of the term.
In the same line some might say that being scantily clad is degrading, but those involved in the act do not think so, and infact some of them are celebrated in the western world. Even more importantly, polygamy is a form of marriage which should be consensual, as any other marriage should be. Those entering into it are doing so with full knowledge of the system of marriage it is, likewise those already involved will show consent (legal verified consent) before an extra spouse is brought in. It is not something which is forced on anyone, it is totally consensual and hence should be made legal.
In addition, those in favour of criminalizing polygamy justify their stance with the argument that it creates a bad oppressive culture, an example being the Mormon communities in the US where young uninformed girls are made to marry adult men. First of all, I will like to point out that that is not polygamy, it is child abuse. Polygamy should be an act between consenting adults well informed of what they are doing and mentally capable of making their own decisions, just like in any other marriage.
Even if monogamy was the only accepted and practiced type of marriage in the Mormon culture but underage girls were still being made to get married, it would still be child abuse; the same way it would be child abuse if an adult was engaging in sexual activity with a minor, whether of the same sex or not. It is not homosexuality or polygamy that is the crime, but the abuse of the child.
Besides, these communities still manage to get around the law criminalizing polygamous marriages by legally marrying only the first wife and marrying the subsequent wives in church. Therefore looking at it practically nothing is really solved. And so the solution to solving the problem of child abuse in the Mormon communities and others like it is not criminalizing polygamy, as it is not the cause, neither does criminalizing it solve the problem.
And here comes one of the most popularly used yet unsound arguments by the anti-polygamy crew, that it promotes gender inequality. But here is the problem, these people who say it promotes gender inequality fail to understand the definition of the term polygamy. Apparently they think it means polygyny or bigamy. They fail to understand polygamy does not just entail one man and multiple women, but one woman and multiple men, it encompasses all genders.
As much as a man should have the right to have multiple spouses a woman should likewise have the right to have multiple spouses of her own. There is clearly no gender inequality here and those who say there is have closed their eyes to this fact and are themselves sexist. This is because they limit polygamy to polygyny, they see it as something only a man is capable of doing, when in reality it is a broad term which calls for the liberation of all. And so at the end of the day they are part of the problem they are protesting against.
These are the main arguments against the legalization of polygamy, arguments which I have proven are all fallacious. I believe it all goes to show that the ban on polygamous marriage is an act of sentiment rather than an act of logic, just like the western countries might say about our ban on homosexuality. But my advice to our more liberal brothers is that they clear the log from their eyes before they clear those in others. It is pure hypocrisy to condemn others of what you are also guilty of doing. Legalize polygamous marriage and only then will you be justified to condemn the actions of the Nigerian government.
Courtesy - Pointblanknews