Polygamy rates decline in Qatar: study
Women choose divorce over second wife
A new study revealed a decline in polygamy rates in Qatar and a subsequent development in women rights amid concerns over the rise of spinsterhood.
According to the study conducted by the Qatar Statistics Authority, the percentage of Qatari men taking second wives has dropped from 6.6% to 4% which is seen as an indication of the decline of polygamy in Qatar as well as in the Gulf region in general.
Despite the fact that the average income of the Qatari man amounts to $72,000, the world’s highest, fewer men are inclined to take second wives. Fewer women are also accepting to become second wives while an increasing number of first wives prefer divorce to accepting a second wife.
Sociologist Dr. Mounira al-Remeihi argued that these statistics were not necessarily accurate since a considerable number of Qatari men marry outside the country. However, Remeihi admitted that polygamy rates were generally less.
“Several factors that are new to the Qatari society contributed to the decline in polygamy like the soaring life expenses and the introduction of new traditions to marriage ceremonies,” she said.
Financial independence is seen as one of the factors that contributed to the decline of polygamy.
“Qatari women are no longer dependent on men,” said Abeer, a student. “In the past, only men worked so women did not object when their husbands remarried.”
For Abeer, the decline in polygamy was not only a sign of development for women, but also for men.
“The fact that men are not taking second wives show that they are more focused on their work and are becoming more productive instead of only caring about their personal pleasure.”
Several factors that are new to the Qatari society contributed to the decline in polygamy like the soaring life expenses and the introduction of new traditions to marriage ceremonies
Sociologist Mounira al-Remeihi
For writer Faisal al-Marzouki, the decline in polygamy was not related to a change in the culture as much as it was due to a change of reality.
For Marzouki, polygamy was a human instinct and that was why God allowed men to have more than one wife, yet social changes hinder this.
“There are several challenges facing the polygamy right sanctioned by God, among them are the soaring prices of houses and marriage expenses as well as costs of living in general,” he wrote in the Qatari newspaper al-Arab.
Marzouki added that the prevalence of satellite channels helped in reducing polygamy rates since men’s perspective of women has changed.
“There is a huge number of satellite channels featuring a wide variety of women, which made men search for women with far-fetched qualifications. The same applies to women.”
While the drop in polygamy is seen as healthy, several researchers find it detrimental to the well being of society. For researcher Ibrahim Gomaa, when men started having only one wife, the number of single women has remarkably increased.
“The Qatari society did not suffer the problem of spinsterhood before,” he said. “Now this problem will be magnified as polygamy drops especially that the Qatari society is small and conservative.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)
There is a huge number of satellite channels featuring a wide variety of women, which made men search for women with far-fetched qualifications
Writer Faisal al-Marzouki