Rising Incomes, Multiple Wives

Those who support the practice invoke Islamic permission for polygamy, which is authorized under the 1959 Personal Status Law with a judge’s permission, on the condition that the husband is financially capable and provided there is a "legitimate" reason for concluding another marriage. Possible "legitimate" reasons include the first wife being unable to bear children or having a disease preventing her from performing her other "duties" to her husband.

However, others consider this a backward phenomenon that has no place in the modern era and leads to social problems, such as family disintegration and juvenile delinquency.

In another example, soldier Hassan Jassem is not even 30 years old but already married to a second wife. He told Al-Monitor, “There is full harmony between my two wives and they live with my mother under the same roof.”

Jassem said, “I got married for the second time to a widow who is my friend’s sister, to save her from staying alone with no husband and especially since she did not have children from her first marriage. We are now expecting our first child.”

Jassem gave several social and religious justifications, saying that he followed the advice of a religious man who encouraged him to marry widows, divorcees and spinsters.

The polygamy phenomenon has increased with the increasing numbers of widows resulting from the wars Iraq has fought over three centuries. The number of divorcees and spinsters is also said to be rising, though there are no accurate statistics available.

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