(CNN) – The South African government is studying the possibility of allowing women to have multiple husbands, a proposal that has caused quite a stir among conservatives of the country.
The proposal to allow polyandry was included in a green paper (a government document that anyone interested can study and make suggestions about, especially before legislation is amended or new is created) from the South African Department of Home Affairs, which is intended to make marriage more inclusive.
The option is one of several in a comprehensive document, but it has sparked intense debate in South Africa.
Polygamy, in which men marry multiple wives, is legal in the country.
“South Africa inherited a marriage regime based on Calvinist and Western Christian traditions,” the document notes, adding that current marriage laws “are not informed by a global policy that is based on constitutional values and an understanding of the dynamics of marriage. modern society.
The document indicates that the current law allows the marriage of minors and does not contemplate couples who change their sex and want to remain married without going through divorce, among other defects.
As part of the push to strengthen marriage policy, the department consulted traditional leaders, as well as human rights activists and other groups, on key issues.
Human rights activists “asserted that equality requires that polyandry be legally recognized as a form of marriage.”
Officials found that people had very different views on marriage, but one of the proposals put forward is to develop a “gender-neutral” marriage scheme.
“South Africa could end the categorization of marriages based on race, sexual orientation, religion and culture,” says the suggestion.
“That means that South Africa (could) adopt a dual system of monogamous or polygamous marriages.”
Due to the element of gender neutrality, this option would apply to both women and men if it becomes law and thus would allow polyandry.
Voices against the proposal to allow polyandry in South Africa
The country’s conservatives were stunned at the suggestion.
A prominent face criticizing the proposal is Musa Mseleku, a reality star who has four wives.
“I am in favor of equality,” Mseleku said in a video posted on his own YouTube channel in May. In it he affirmed that polyandry would put in doubt the paternity of the children.
“What family will this child belong to?” Asks Mseleku.
“More than that, we are spiritual people,” he added. “Our spirits, our creator, have seen to it that we are created in this way.”
“The mentality is alien,” he said.
Mseleku also expanded on Facebook.
“Protecting our existence … is important to both the current generation and the future,” he wrote in a post on May 17.
«Let us defend our culture, tradition and customs by participating in this process. Let’s oppose polyandry outright.
The idea that polyandry is not authentically African was also prevalent among religious leaders, according to the Department of Home Affairs.
The document noted that during conversations with traditional leaders, it was revealed that they believed that “only men are allowed to have multiple spouses.”
The document adds: “Consequently, traditional leaders consider polyandry to be an unacceptable practice because it is not of African origin.”
The Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, has also opposed the proposal.
In an interview with South African broadcaster eNCA, Meshoe said that while polygamy was “an accepted practice”, polyandry was not.
“Men are jealous and possessive,” Meshoe said, explaining why a marriage with multiple husbands would not work.
Later in the document, officials said that “while some stakeholders believed in the practice of polygamy, there were also those who opposed it. This applies equally to the practice of polyandry. Ironically, stakeholders who believed in the practice of polygamy were opposed to the practice of polyandry. ‘
The South African government is consulting on the document until June 30, inviting comments on all proposals.