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Bbc Radio 4 - The Part Time Wife

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I was listening to this the other day, thought I'd log on here after so long, and share...

Jemima Khan investigates the practice of polygamy in the UK's Muslim community.

For divorced Muslim women, finding a new spouse isn't always easy. But would being a part-time wife be the solution?

Khan attends a Muslim matchmaking event to talk to divorced and widowed women about whether they would contemplate becoming a co-wife. She finds a number of women who are actively considering it.

Polygamy in the UK is mostly practiced by Muslims, though not exclusively. Although only one marriage can be officially registered under British law, the Quran permits men to take four wives. But some Muslims believe that this permission needs to be interpreted in the context of 21st century Britain, where women enjoy equality with men and should not be subject to religious laws which seem to contradict their rights.

In this programme, Jemima Khan speaks to women who have chosen to become second wives as well as women who have had polygamy imposed upon them without their consent or, sometimes, even their knowledge.

We hear from a family barrister and a representative of the Sharia Council. Baroness Caroline Cox explains why she believes that practices such as polygamy bring suffering to women and must be prevented from happening; but Islamic law consultant, Khola Hasan, wants the English legal system to recognise the existence of polygamy (though she does not wish the law to be changed to accommodate the practice.)

Listen here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01s46rr

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Khola Hasan, wants the English legal system to recognise the existence of polygamy (though she does not wish the law to be changed to accommodate the practice.)

What, then, would 'recognising' the existence of polygamy entail if the law is not to be changed to 'accommodate' the practice? I don't get it.

Polygamy already exists and is practiced without any reference to the British law which doesn't allow a married male to register a second marriage anyway.

So what's the debate here? Do people face charges in the British legal system if they marry the second time?

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What, then, would 'recognising' the existence of polygamy entail if the law is not to be changed to 'accommodate' the practice? I don't get it.

Polygamy already exists and is practiced without any reference to the British law which doesn't allow a married male to register a second marriage anyway.

So what's the debate here? Do people face charges in the British legal system if they marry the second time?

(salam)

It would be very hard to prove polygamy as there is no legal documentation that would recognise polygamy. It could be passed as cohabitation and only cause problems when the wife (or one of the wives) is ready to speak up.

Your question poses another question, if Muslims should follow the laws of the land and the laws of the land prohibit it, is it then unacceptable to engage in polygamy? (Presuming you weren't in danger of zina)

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(salam)

It would be very hard to prove polygamy as there is no legal documentation that would recognise polygamy. It could be passed as cohabitation and only cause problems when the wife (or one of the wives) is ready to speak up.

Your question poses another question, if Muslims should follow the laws of the land and the laws of the land prohibit it, is it then unacceptable to engage in polygamy? (Presuming you weren't in danger of zina)

Any law of the land which goes against the law of The Lord can be compromised/modified.

Islamic order of abiding by the law of the land holds value only when the rights of your fellow citizens (Muslims or non-Muslims) are not trampled upon.

Having a poly-g relationship does not infringe on the rights of your neighbors.

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I dont think there is a problem as the addition marriage is not registered under common law. It is against the law to have additional registered marriage. It is a law without meaning as there are so many common law marriages and there is no law against more than one common law marriage.

Having a poly-g relationship does not infringe on the rights of your neighbors.

For those polygamist marriages that are supported by the state (welfare), they get larger benefits if the women register as single. That is how many polygamy marriages in the west are financed. The rates would go down if they were recognized as one large family.

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(salam)

Any law of the land which goes against the law of The Lord can be compromised/modified.

Islamic order of abiding by the law of the land holds value only when the rights of your fellow citizens (Muslims or non-Muslims) are not trampled upon.

Having a poly-g relationship does not infringe on the rights of your neighbors.

Yes of course brother, as we aren't talking about wajib and haram here it's not necessarily going against the laws of the Lord but I see your point.

I dont think there is a problem as the addition marriage is not registered under common law. It is against the law to have additional registered marriage. It is a law without meaning as there are so many common law marriages and there is no law against more than one common law marriage.

That's very true.

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(salam)

It would be very hard to prove polygamy as there is no legal documentation that would recognise polygamy. It could be passed as cohabitation and only cause problems when the wife (or one of the wives) is ready to speak up.

Since there is no law against additional marriage, say if one of the wives speaks up, what recourse does she have in the law, since the additional marriage is not, cannot be, registered and she isn't the recognised wife?

Your question poses another question, if Muslims should follow the laws of the land and the laws of the land prohibit it, is it then unacceptable to engage in polygamy? (Presuming you weren't in danger of zina)

The law of the land already prohibits it. But it only prohibits it from registering the additional marriage with the state. But we know that the legality of Islamic marriage in Islamic canonical law doesn't depend on state approval. So polygamous marriages take place bypassing the common law altogether. So that should be fine with Muslims, no?

If Muslims want the state to recognise this arrangement, as some figure quoted in the report demanded, but doesn't want the English law changed, what then they are asking for?

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(salam)

Since there is no law against additional marriage, say if one of the wives speaks up, what recourse does she have in the law, since the additional marriage is not, cannot be, registered and she isn't the recognised wife?

True, usually there is another breach of the law, such as fraudulence and this is the icing on the cake as oposed to the main concern. When a wife in a polygamous relationship speaks against her husband, the crime is not the relationship but domestic abuse, fraud etc.

If Muslims want the state to recognise this arrangement, as some figure quoted in the report demanded, but doesn't want the English law changed, what then they are asking for?

I presume the spokesperson hasn't thought it through because to recognise it, you need to re-evaluate laws such as custody and inheritance.

I do not think it is the business of the state - as long as you don't want government hand outs you should be fine.

Indeed.

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