South Africa’s marriage laws could in the near future allow women to marry more than one husband, just as polygamous men can have many wives.
Legalisation of polyandry is one of the wide-ranging proposals in the Green Paper on Marriages.
The Department of Home Affairs published the landmark 67-page policy document this week.
The department stressed in the document that it sought to create a new Marriage Act that will allow all in the country to conclude recognised, legal marriages.
A range of types of marriages in the country were not recognised; and on the other hand, marriage legislation was deemed to not promote equality.
Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Rastafarian marriages were not recognised by South African law and the Green Paper also puts up proposals for their recognition.
“The failure to recognise these religious marriages is untenable and discriminatory,” said the document.
The Green Paper proposed three new marriage regimes it maintained could bring about equality in marriage laws.
Option one was an “inclusive customary and religious marriage regime”. This would see the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act amended to cater for all marriages irrespective of race, cultural and religious persuasions.
Option two would be a religion and culture-neutral marriage regime.
The third option would be a genderneutral marriage regime. “This would accommodate both polygyny and polyandry,” said the document.
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