After three months of negotiations, lawmakers in Guinea on Saturday, December 29, 2018, finally made amendments to a law that will govern relations between people, with the most controversial change being on polygamy (the practice or custom of having more than one wife at the same time).
Until now, polygamy was prohibited for civil marriages in Guinea, even though it is widely practised in religious marriages and no one is sanctioned for that.
Under the revised Civil Code, however, men can choose between the matrimonial regime of monogamy and polygamy, with a maximum of four wives, reports the VOA
Polygamy is a centuries-old practice in Africa that has yet to disappear from modern life. It has both cultural and religious origins, and it is generally accepted in 26 out of 54 African countries, particularly Muslim majority countries.
Critics of the practice say that it undermines women’s dignity and increases the risks of diseases and poverty.
In Guinea, the latest country to legalise polygamy, some women groups have protested the move, describing it as sexist.
Nanfadima Magassouba, a majority lawmaker who refused to vote on December 29, said that the decision is a “step backwards.”
But other activists have pointed out the positive sides of the new law for women.
“Parental authority is recognized by both parents, not to mention the question of the profession. In this new revised Civil Code, a woman can choose her profession, without, however, upstream, having the authorization of her husband “, said Ibrahima Diallo, president of the NGO Protect Human Rights.
Advances for the rights of children have also been highlighted in the revised Civil Code – children out of wedlock could receive an inheritance, the human rights activist added.
Till date, countries such as Algeria, Mali, Niger, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, generally accept polygamy.