Mumbai: Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have always been highlighted as 'Hub of Polygamy' - the states where marrying more than one woman is a norm and widespread. Hollywood, Bollywood and other media modes whenever shows an Arab, they show him with more than one wives.
However, a latest survey exposed this myth and concluded that polygamy or marrying more than one woman, which though have been permitted in Islam without any doubt, is not widespread.
"The General Authority of Statistics has revealed that over half a million of Saudis are married to more than one wife", Saudi Gazette reported Wednesday quoting Makkah newspaper.
According to United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division, the total population of Saudi Arabia is 32, 529, 026, and with a sex ratio of 1.233 (1233 males per 1000 feales) the country has a total of 17, 961, 878 (55.2%) males and 14, 567, 150 (44.80%) females. The UN data also shows that about 30% of the total Saudi population is of foreigners.
Islam allows a man to marry more than one woman but this permission comes with strict conditions. Scholars say this is the reason why, unlike propaganda, the practice is not widespread among Muslims.
The survey on polygamy published by Makkah newspaper showed that younger men in the age-group of 15-19 have not been involved in polygamous marriages. But, as age increases rate of polygamous marriages also increases.
"The statistics issued by the authority show that men aged 15-19 have not been involved in polygamous marriages", the reports said.
"The statistics also show that 869 of men aged 20-24 have two wives; 4,941 of those in the age bracket of 25-29 have two wives and 505 of them have more than two wives.
"The statistics also revealed that 18,246 of men aged 30-34 have two wives and 539 of them have more than two wives. About 30,600 of men aged 35-39 have two wives and 2,668 of them have more than two wives", the report said.
"Data also showed that most men with two wives are aged 45-49 years old", it added.
Interestingly, a recent survey conducted by ummid.com also showed that polygamy is uncommon in Muslim majority towns in India. As an indicator, ummid.com surveyed in Malegaon and found that the hugely Muslim populated city in North Maharashtra has just 151 men with more than one wife.
The survey was conducted at a time when there is a debate going on in India on polygamy. Some women activists have approached the Apex Court of the country demanding a ban on polygamy along with concurrent or triple talaq.
The BJP led government in New Delhi is also supporting the demand, linking the issue with rights of women and gender justice. The government has also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court making clear its stand on the issue.
On the other hand, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board [AIMPLB] and other Muslim organisations are opposing the move. A large number of men and women following the call given by the AIMPLB are participating in offline and online signature campaigns to register their opposition.