Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Polygamy in the South Sudan

From the Economist:

IT IS a truth universally acknowledged, or at least widely accepted in South Sudan, that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of many wives. Paul Malong, South Sudan's former army chief of staff, has more than 100—no one knows the exact number. A news website put it at 112 in February, after one of the youngest of them ran off to marry a teacher.  The couple were said to be in hiding.  To adapt Jane Austen again, we are all fools in love, but especially so if we cuckold a war-lord in one of the world's most violent countries.

Men in South Sudan typically marry as often as their wealth—often measured in cattle—will allow.  Perhaps 40% of marriages are polygamous.  "In [our] culture, the more family you have, the more people respect you," says William, a young IT specialist in search of his second wife (his name, like some others in this article, as been changed).  Having studied in America and come back to his home village, he finds that he is wealthy by local standards.  So why be content with just one bride?

Few South Sudanese see the connection between these matrimonial customs and the country's horrific civil war.

Read more here.

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