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South Africa's Multiple Husbands Proposal

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A proposal by the South African government to legalise polyandry - when a woman has more than one husband at the same time - has led to howls of protest from conservative quarters.

This does not surprise Professor Collis Machoko, a renowned academic on the topic.

The objections are "about control," he told the BBC. "African societies are not ready for true equality. We don't know what to do with women we cannot control."

South Africa has one of the world's most liberal constitutions, embracing same-sex marriages for all and polygamy for men.

Businessman and TV personality Musa Mseleku - who has four wives - is among those opposed to polyandry.

"This will destroy African culture. What about the children of those people? How will they know their identity?" asks Mr Mseleku, who stars in a South African reality TV show about his polygamous family.

"The woman cannot now take the role of the man. It's unheard of. Will the woman now pay lobola [bride price] for the man. Will the man be expected to take her surname?"

Secret unions

Prof Machoko researched polyandry in his country of birth - neighbouring Zimbabwe. He spoke to 20 women and 45 co-husbands who practised it, even though such marriages are socially taboo and not legally recognised.

"Polyandry, because it is shunned by parts of society, has been forced underground. The secrecy is similar to the one found in freemasons," he said.

"When confronted by somebody whom they do not trust or do not know, they even deny that such a marriage exists. All this is because of fear of reprisals and persecution."

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https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-57548646
 
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