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Perception of polygamous marriage in Sudanese society

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By Peter Reat Gatkuoth

September 15, 2007 — Polygamy is the practices of one man marrying more than one wife. Years ago, this practice of having more than one wife is very common in the whole continent of Africa, and some developing nation across the globe. Polygamy practice in Sudan is very common especially in societies such as Dinka, Nuer, Murle, and so forth; and it sometimes indicate wealth. During 17th century, most societies in South Sudan major wealth in term of having many wives, many children and many cattle. In some areas, children are looked at as an auxiliary factor, and most people tend to cling to the notion of more wives and more children for the greater production, and an increase in wealth and prestige. In most instances, women have rank or standard of respect in the family level according to the seniority, and respect gained from husband. Some people, however, assumed that “a man with no male child is not a man.”

The desire for children is usually very high, and most often women who had more girls never give up producing children for the fact that they may have chance to get a baby boy. Sometimes, woman who had no baby can not tolerate to live/stay with husband. They always assumed that “if I have no children, every one will call me male.” It is always of supreme importance for most Sudanese women to demonstrate fertility as soon as possible.

As I have indicated above that the general and diffuse motive for bearing children is that, having many wives, many children, and more cattle mean wealth, prestige and the blessing of God, and ancestors; and therefore, the issue of family planning is very rare in most societies. One who preach and teach the women about the family planning (contraceptives) method to minimize random and unplanned pregnancy may perhaps get a serious warning from local people.

Family planning is the practices and methods that allow individuals to produce the number a couple can appropriately take care of at the right interval. However, despite the various advantages associated with the general ideas of family planning, women in polygamous marriages have a negative perception toward it and disregard this process hopelessly as the towns’ people plan to minimize and prevent women to have more children.

Today in South Sudan living mechanism may change and therefore living standards will also change. There will be a need to educate children, and provide them with necessary needs. However, most polygamous family would not afford to deal with the situation because many of them were housewives, and farm workers. As the situation will start worsen, most men will loose some partner or trust may fade and decrease a way. In this way, most of women will scattered looking for survival and come back to the units where their children and man without responsibility stay.

Although polygamy marriage in rural sector in Sudan has never been shaken by the scourge of HIV/AID as it would be expected later, there will be a very significant increase of this deadly viruses because of multiple partners that may be lingering between towns’ men and rural’ men. Therefore, it should be of our interest that plural marriage must be avoided, Minimized and more lecture, explanation of the polygamy marriages’ consequence should be carry out effectively to prevent the on going spread of viruses in some part of the country.

The author is a Sociology and Political Science student in Western Canada. You can reach him at peterrreat@yahoo.com or nyakhot@myway.com.



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