Eritrean Government under the leadership of President Isaias Afwerki, have ordered the men in his country to marry at least two wives or risk being imprisoned for life. This is contained in a statement written in Arabic by the Grand Mufti (the highest official of religious law in the country) which scanned copy surfaced on social media sites on Thursday last week.
A report on Standard revealed that activists had translated the memo written in Arabic to:
“Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of Religious Affairs has decided on the following:
“First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labour.
“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment.”
According to the document, which has been all over the internet, the government of Eritrea, which is presently facing a scarcity of male population due to the civil war with Ethiopia, is willing to cover the necessary wedding and accommodation expenses in a show of support towards accomplishing the set mission.
Eritrea and Ethiopia was at war from 1998 to 2000, as a result of a dispute over borders. Consequently, Eritrea lost about 150,000 soldiers which ultimately affected the number of its male population, as the country was only populated by about four million people then. Thus, while the reason behind the latest decision of the Eritrean government is understandable, it certainly does not create an excuse for the use of force and intimidation in matters of this nature.
Many countries in Africa still permit polygamy and some, including Kenya, have even enshrined it in their constitutions. In 2014, the president of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, legalised polygamy, setting no limit on the number of wives a man is allowed to marry. Unfortunately, the men have realised that it is no child’s play keeping more than one woman in the house and have resorted to drinking bars for solace. Following this recent development, Kenyans are reportedly praising the decision of the Eritrean government on the matter as one said on social media, “He is so so considerate of women! That’s good of him,”.
Eritrea which is among the top ten countries with the most beautiful girls in the world (probably the reason why the president feels there is a need for urgent reproduction of more beautiful girls, lol) is made up of two major religions, Christianity and Islam, with almost equal numbers for each group. It is obvious that this command which has been recently issued was reeled off with no consideration for the Christian citizens of the country. The tenets of Christianity teaches that marriage should be between one man and one woman. This leads me to ask, what will happen to the Christians in Eritrea who will definitely oppose this order in defense of their faith? Will they actually be thrown into prison? Since that will mean jailing nearly half of the country’s male population.
President Isaias Afewerki has governed Eritrea for 23 years from the time it won its independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and his regime is completely authoritarian and has zero tolerance for any form of association, dissent, and free expression. Eritrea has also consistently supported the rise and spread of radical Islam in the Horn of Africa. With this polygamy move therefore, one may not be wrong to assume that it is a deliberate attack on the Christian religion.
Other African countries where polygamy remains illegal include Ghana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Tunisia, Rwanda, and Burundi.