Polyandry is a form of polygamy in which one woman is married to several men. While polyandrous unions occurrence is rare it has been witnessed in Africa, Oceania, and Native America.
There are two types of Polyandry namely: fraternal polyandry in which a group of brothers share a wife, and non-fraternal polyandry in which a woman’s husbands are not related.
Polyandry is practiced in a few cultures. Fraternal forms are common in the mountainous areas of Nepal and Tibet. In Tibetian Nyinba tribe, brothers share a common wife with whom each maintains a sexual relationship.
It is often seen as necessary when seeking to keep resources open to everyone in ‘enclosed’ societies. In the Himalayas, polyandry is common and happens due to the scarcity of land.
One woman is married to all brothers in a family and this ensures that land does not keep being subdivided and kept in one piece. Brothers sharing a wife also limits the number of children in a family, managing the population growth.
Polyandry in Africa
In South Africa, a recent proposal by the Department of Home Affairs to legalize polyandry has sparked conversation and become a trending topic leading to heated discussions in other countries, even in Kenya. In SA, only polygyny is currently recognised, which means men can have more than one wife.
Critics of the practice in Kenya say its a recipe for disaster.
Exotic Africa talked to JJ, A young Nairobian and he didn’t mince his words against polyandry.
“I feel this is outrageous. Women deserve a lot in terms of equality but having more than one husband will lead to more conflicts in homes. Men are naturally territorial and have the energy to mark their space. Unless we lose our land in Kenya, why should we consider polyandry? ” Posed JJ.