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Women campaign against polygamy • Monday March 17, 2003

AFP, Mar. 17, 2003

KUALA LUMPUR – A coalition of 12 Malaysian women’s groups yesterday launched a campaign against polygamy following recent moves by some states to ease restrictions for Muslim men to take a second wife.

Most Muslim men here are generally allowed to marry up to four wives, provided they have authorisation from their existing wives.

But Muslim women’s groups were enraged when the Perlis government announced last year it would allow Muslim men to marry again without the consent of the first wife.

Terengganu also plans to ease the process of taking on a second wife for its legislators by issuing them with undated letters authorising them to do so at any time.

Ms Zainah Anwar, director of Sisters-In-Islam, said the coalition wanted to spread the message that polygamy was not the norm in a Muslim marriage and to encourage Muslim men to make a firm commitment to monogamy.

Official statistics show that only 5 per cent of Muslim marriages in the country are polygamous, but she estimated the actual figure to be nearly 20 per cent.

‘Our position is that polygamy is not an absolute right in Islam. Monogamy is the norm,’ she said.

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