oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Should we legalise or abolish polygamy?

Volume 22, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Although polygamy is not new, its continued practice especially in black society under modern circumstances calls for justification. Moreover, countries like Tanzania and, to come nearer home, Transkei, have after independence recognised polygamous marriages as legal marriages. South Africa has to take a definite stand on this. Besides this, the rate of divorce in South Africa requires a reassessment of our marriage norms. The arguments against polygamy may be classified into three broad categories, namely the theological, those based on critical morality, and those which derive from human-rights considerations. The aim of this article is to subject these contentions to critical scrutiny with the object of concluding that they are based on value judgment rather than on logical deduction. Whatever the demerits of polygamy, the pertinent question is whether it is advisable to abolish the institution by means of legislation.

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