Posted by Nelson Dafe | 23 February 2015 | 3,594 times
In Africa polygamy is a common feature of family life. However, it is illegal in western countries where the norm is a two-person marital relationship.
But there’s a minority of European voices who hold different opinions about polygamy. Among them is Danish politician Keld Christensen of the Liberal Alliance Party, who has called for the legalisation of polygamy in Denmark.
In a piece he recently wrote, titled ‘Cause The Greatest Of All Is Love’, Christensen called the refusal to legalise polygamy in Denmark a “serious restriction of the citizens’ free choice.”
Mr. Christensen is also advocating for the legalisation of polyandry (which is a form of polygamy in which a woman marries more than one man.)
He added that it shouldn’t be the state’s business to decide who should be in a marital relationship or not.
Mr. Christensen argues that the benefits of polygamy and polyandry are multiple. He cites, as example, economic advantage and says that a polygamous marriage would mean that there would be more resources for families to budget within their everyday lives, because more people in the household can work and take care of the house and, if possible, the children.
Christensen (who is a member of the Regional Council of Central Denmark) stresses that he sees no unique problem in a polygamous marriage, while arguing that just like in a two-person marriage, it is the consenting partners that sign the marriage contract, “the only difference being that now (in a polygamy) there might be several to sign (the marriage) contract instead of a few.”
He emphasises that the stumbling block to polygamy and polyandry in Denmark is “obsolete, antiquated traditions of primarily religious origin.”
News Express spoke with Mr. Christensen about his article. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
News Express: What do you think of polygamy as practised in Africa and how do you think Denmark and the rest of the western world can learn from the African experience?
CHRISTENSEN: To me it very important to lean from others’ culture, but my knowledge about polygamous relationships in Africa is very limited. To me it is important that both, or all partners, marry of their own free will.
How popular is the call for polygamy and polyandry to be practised in Denmark?
To me it is not about how many that live in a polygamist relationship, but the liberty to choose
freely. Not all people are the same here in this world, and thank heavens for that. Some people feel good about living alone their whole life, others find their partner and stay with him or her the rest of their life, but some people don’t feel completely complete unless they are in a relationship with more than one person. And we should respect this as a society.
You write about religion being the main instrument used in the opposition to polygamy and polyandry. But given that Denmark is relatively much more atheistic than many other countries in mainland Europe and the rest of the world, do you think religious people are the strongest opposition to your call for the legalisation of polygamy and polyandry?
It is correct, viewed with other, more religious countries’ eyes, Denmark is a very atheistic country, but our constitution is built on Christian values, and around 80% of the Danes arereligious of some sort, and beside that as a standard our children are born into Christianity, unless the parents decide not to, or that the child after the age of 18 decides to resign from the Christian beliefs. That is also the reason I ask if the religious people of Denmark or the government should decide this.
You write that there is no problem about polygamy, but don’t you think a polygamous marriage can lead to all sorts of problems, like a partner being left out in the love triangle eventually?
No, I don’t think this will cause any problems, on the background that all partners are open to the thought of living in a relationship like this. Of course, someone can get jealous in a relationship like this, but that also happens in “normal” relationships.
When you look at your crystal ball, do you think the call for the legalisation of polygamy and polyandry could soon reach a critical mass and that a law could be passed any time soon to make a multi-person marriage legal?
No, sadly, no. I think it will be very hard to get the law to accept this kind of lifestyle because there are a lot of political parties that would have a lot against this. But I hope that we, within my lifetime, would be more open-minded.
Polygamy as practised in Nigeria’s and (Africa’s) local traditions involves a man marrying more than one wife. He basically ‘owns’ the women, and the women are not permitted to have any sexual relationship with each other. My guess is that the polygamy you are pushing for is not as restrictive as this.
Yes, there are two important differences between my kind of polygamy and what you mention. irst of all, all partners should freely go in to this marriage equally, and no one should be able to “own” another person. There should be a big focus on freedom, in my view on polygamy. Beside this, it shouldn’t only be a marriage between one man and many women, but also between many women, or many men, or a mix of women and men.
•Photo shows Mr. Christensen.
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