In recent years, the Department of Home Affairs hosted several ministerial dialogues in the discussion of a new marriage law that will allow polyandry in South Africa. The new marriage law will not only allow Polyandry in South Africa, but will see the legalisation of several other types of traditional marriages too.
The marriage green paper is a by-product of extensive talks regarding the new marriage law and has led the South African government to consider a new marriage law that will recognise women with multiple husbands in a practice called Polyandry. Polyandry is defined as a form of polygamy in which a woman has more than one husband. Since most polygamist marriages are based primarily on traditional value systems, cultural beliefs, heteronormativity and gender roles, the proposal of this new marriage law definitely ruffled some feathers.
The department of Home Affairs stressed that the legislation proposals mentioned in the green book sought to create a new Marriage Act that will allow everyone in the country the right to recognised legal marriage. This is because a range of marriages, namely Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Rastafarian marriages, were not recognised by South African laws. Therefore, the failure to recognise these marriages was seen as discriminatory and not on board with the promotion of equality in the country.
During the new marriage law dialogues, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and officials heard from stakeholders including traditional healers, religious leaders, academics and LGBT and gender activists.
Activists submitted that EQUALITY demands that polyandry be legally recognised as a form of marriage. Among the demand for the new marriage law was the demand that customary marriages be catered for constitutionally across races, cultural and religious persuasions. However, during the talks, polyandry and polygamy emerged as some of the more controversial topics.
Traditional healers were among those who objected to polyandry and labelled it as an “unacceptable practice because it is not of African origin”. It’s safe to say that the discussions of the new marriage law definitely shook the foundation of patriarchy that the country stands upon and unveiled issues that may make some South Africans uncomfortable. However controversial this new marriage law may be, it will encourage necessary dialogue within the South African and international communities.
Polyandry is not an uncommon practice around the world and is considered normal over borders much closer than you would think, with Nigeria and Kenya ranking among the top 5 countries where polyandry is commonly practiced. In China and South America, a different form of polyandry called ‘fraternal polyandry’ is practiced. This is a type of polyandry where a woman marries two or more men who are brothers. This is done to preserve family inheritance.
Even though the government is in talks with officials regarding the new marriage law to allow polyandry in South Africa, the public has a say in the passing of the new law. Civilians have been given until 30 June 2021 to weigh in on the matter.
When the laws brought about in the Marriage Green Book are passed, then more women will be able to legally marry and more traditional marriages will be legally recognised. If you are among those seeking legal document for the registration of your marriage, then you might require a cost-effective language service to assist you with your legal documents. Choose Frenchside Language Translation Services as your go to translation service. Frenchside can help you translate your documents into French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, as well as all South African languages. With a wide range of services offered, we can help you translate documents such as:
- Letter of non-impediment
- Marriage certificate
- Proof of residence
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