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Chapter 13

Gender and Polygyny – Religion, Culture, and Equality in Marriage

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Introduction to the Chapter

Polygamy raises the most intractable of conflicts – that between women’s right to equality in marriage and the rights to freedom of religion and culture.  Polygyny means a marriage system under which a man may be simultaneously married to several women.  Under state laws in many countries, men in specific religions or ethnic groups are permitted to practice polygyny.  Polygyny is just one form of polygamy, the other being polyandry – multiple husbands for one woman. Although anthropologists sometimes list remote areas of the world where polyandry is practiced, no state law permits it.

Documents from the Chapter

Each document has its own box.  The box contains, on the top bold line, the name of the document. This is followed by the legal citation (not in bold).  Under these lines, the box contains one or more sources for opening the document.  In the left-hand column (“HTML”or “PDF”), the reader can access the official document copy, hosted on RossRights.  This permits rapid access to the document. In the right-hand column (“External Link”), the reader can access the same document on an official website.  This link will often take more time to appear than the PDF or HTML copy, but should be used for official legal citations.Asterisks accompany links where additional steps to reach the document are required.

For all United Nations Treaties, the source marked "Original" contains the UN General Assembly Resolution (G.A. res.) adopting the relevant treaty, which is found in the "Annex" following the Resolution.  The source marked "UN High Comm'r for Human Rights" contains the relevant treaty, without the G.A. res.

 

Key:
Map AvailableMap(s) Available
Photo AvailablePhoto(s) Available

 

Cases

Reynolds v. United States,

98 U.S. 145 (1878).

Supreme Court of the United States HTML

 

Uganda Ass'n of Women Lawyers v. Attorney General,

Const. Pet. No. 2/03, (10 Mar 2004).

Constitutional Court of Uganda PDF

 

Map of Uganda

Uganda is located in Eastern Africa, west of Kenya.

*Population estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Law and Advocacy for Women in Uganda (LAW-U) v. Attorney General,

Const. Pets. Nos. 13/05 & 05/06, [2007] UGCC 1 (5 April 2007).

Constitutional Court of Uganda HTML

Other Documents

Susan Deller Ross, Polygyny as a Violation of Women's Right to Equality in Marriage: An Historical, Comparative and International Human Rights Overview,

24 Delhi L. Rev. 22 (2002).

RossRights PDF

 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.
Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*Scroll to and click on 2200(XXI).

^The ICCPR Begins on Page 52.

 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

G.A. res. 34/180, 34 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 46) at 193, U.N. Doc. A/34/46, entered into force Sept. 3, 1981.
Original PDF*
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*Scroll to the bottom of the first page, document begins in right column.

 

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.
Original PDF
UN High Comm'r for Human Rights PDF

*Scroll to and click on 2200(XXI).

^The ICCPR Begins on Page 52.

 

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 21, Equality in marriage and family relations (Thirteenth session, 1992),

U.N. Doc. A/49/38 at 1 (1994), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 250 (2003).

United Nations PDF

 

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, General Recommendation 24, Women and Health (Twentieth session, 1999),

U.N. Doc. A/49/38 at 1 (1994), reprinted in Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.6 at 250 (2003).

United Nations  

 

Human Rights Committee, General Comment 28, Equality of rights between men and women (article 3),

U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.10 (2000).

UN High Comm'r for Human Rights HTML

 

African Charter Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa,

Adopted by the 2nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, Maputo, CAB/LEG/66.6 (Sept. 13, 2000); reprinted in 1 Afr. Hum. Rts. L.J. 40, entered into force Nov. 25, 2005.

African Union PDF
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights HTML

 

Links from the Chapter

Related Maps and Photos

 

Map of Tanzania

Tanzania is located in Eastern Africa, bordering the Indian Ocean, between Kenya and Mozambique.

*Population estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

 

Mauritius Large

 

Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar. It was once the only home of the now-extinct dodo bird.

 

Mauritius Small

Mauritius is only 2040 km2 (788 mi2).

 

Map of Bangladesh

 

Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, is located in Southern Asia, bordering the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India.

*Population estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

 

 

Map of India

India is located in Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between

Burma and Pakistan.