Polygamy made mandatory in Eritrea

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Who: Polygamy
Where: Eritrea
What: Made mandatory
When: January 2016

Eritrea’s Department of Religious Affairs in the fourth week of January 2016 issued a law that makes it mandatory for men of the nation to marry at least two wives. Failing to adhere by the orders will lead to life imprisonment with hard labour.

The law also says that women who attempt to prevent their husbands from exercising the law would spend the rest of their lives in jail.

According to documents available on internet, the order was passed in lieu of the country facing a shortage of male population caused due to the civil war with Ethiopia. In order to bridge this shortage, the law also intends to cover the necessary wedding and accommodation expenses.

The memo is yet to receive official verification or be re-produced in the country’s other national languages.

Earlier in the similar way, Polygamy was legalised by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2014, with no limit on the number of wives that a man can marry. Other African countries where polygamy remains illegal include Ghana, Ethiopia, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Angola, Tunisia, Rwanda, and Burundi.

Eritrean-Ethiopian Civil war
The Eritrea and Ethiopia, two of the world’s poorest countries, were at a war between May 1998 and June 2000 forming one of the bloodiest conflicts in the Horn of Africa. The war ended with a peace deal which was signed by the governments in December 2000. The deal was signed after the two parties in June 2000 agreed to a comprehensive peace agreement and binding arbitration of their disputes under the Algiers Agreement.

The war was a result of dispute over borders and according to a ruling by an international commission in The Hague, Eritrea broke international law and triggered the war by invading Ethiopia.

The war led to causalities of tens of thousands and wastage of hundreds of millions of dollars. This death and wastage of money led to minor changes in border.