Polygamy: How Moroccans trick to have a second wife

Polygamy - morrocan woman with veil in Morocco

Some men change their city to produce a celibacy certificate; others have children with the second partner in order to compel the court to take action in marriage recognition. Every year, the number of men giving themselves the right to have more than one wife in Morocco does not exceed one thousand per year.

An insignificant number, knowing that polygamy is not prohibited, but is very hard to justify in the Family Code, which is applied since 2004, by so drastic conditions that it legally becomes theoretically almost impossible if not completely impossible.

But the reality on the ground say something else, requests for a second wives being ounted by thousands in courts, according to Nadia Mouhir, a lawyer practicing in Rabat questioned by the Moroccan weekly “La Vie Eco”, “and it is not only the rich who formulate, I also see less rich, intellectuals, cadres of society…”

The only problem for them, she says, “With the new introduced procedure by the new code, they do not get it easily.”

Procedure: To qualify for a second (or third or fourth wife, Moroccan law allowing it), the law requires the husband to get an authorization from the court, his claim being sufficiently justified, the applicant having financial capacity to meet the needs of both families, and that no injustice is to be feared.

However, the agreement of the first wife is mandatory; otherwise she have the right to seek divorce. Conditions not all husbands are able to fulfil.

The law is then diverted by resorting to subterfuges like delivering falsified records to the judge for his approval.

He moves to another town for a virgin celibacy certificate In November 2012, Ahmed B, 31, married for eight years in Salé, father of two children, proceeded to a second marriage in another city, Agadir, with a false certificate of celibacy.

Many polygamy contenders do the same: “They leave the city where they live with their wives, make an address in another city, for the sole purpose to be entitled to a virgin marital certificate”, says Khadija Rabbah, from the Casablanca section of the Democratic Association of rights of Women (AMDH).

Often, the first wife is not even noticed. Our fellow from Agadir did not enjoy the delights of love with his new sweetheart for too long: not more than one month after the conclusion of the act, he was arrested in the home of his second and sentenced to three years in prison.

The question become obvious: why this polygamist who chose to remarry in Agadir simply had not divorced his first wife, and avoid jail? Mouhir Nadia has its explanation:

“For the simple sake of avoid paying maintenance”.

Changing City is not the only trick used to circumvent the law. As it is mandatory to have the consent of the first wife, men, to put pressure on her and the judge, ensure that their second partner becomes pregnant.

The judge then resorts to Article 16 of the Family Code to take action in recognition of marriage. Thus, both the judge and the first woman are in front of an accomplished fact, and the latter has only to accept this, or reject it and request a divorce.

44% of Moroccans are for polygamy Eight years after the new legislation on family became applicable, resistance remains. Judges, “adouls” (sort of traditional notaries) do not hesitate to castigate number of articles of this Code, including the ones relating to polygamy.

Abdesslam El Bouraini, president of the National Order of “adouls“ of Morocco still does not understand why the legislature has made polygamy so difficult to obtain:

If Islam has permitted, he asserts, it is for the good of the community, otherwise it’s debauchery. This law has encouraged men and women to have sex outside of marriage. The age of celibacy increases more and more, and women can not find husbands, why not simplify the procedure to allow people who can afford it to marry other women?

Of course, on one condition, he adds, that the husband treat them fairly. That way, we will have saved a lot of women.

Yes, fairness is the big question: how could a man, with or without financial means, may be fair with two families? Share his love with two (three or four) women? Fair or not, one thing is certain: culturally, Moroccan society does not reject entirely polygamy, and the more we advance in age the more it is favourable.

44% of Moroccans are for polygamy. This is what emerges from a survey conducted in 2007 by three Moroccan values and religious practices researchers.

Facing conservatives seeking polygamy procedure relief, modernists claim outright prohibition.

For K. Rabbah, still allowing polygamy is a serious obstacle to the commitments made by Morocco at international level regarding equality between women and men.

Recall that among the twenty recommendations NGOs that had submitted in a report sent to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations, it was asked, to comply with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and the commitments of Morocco” to revise the current Family Code to dispose of the prohibition of polygamy and child marriage …”

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