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One man, one wife: The Gambia may ban polygamy in 2015
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One man, one wife: The Gambia may ban polygamy in 2015

The Gambia could soon become the first West African country to outlaw polygamy, according to unreliable information reaching What’s On-Gambia.

Currently, many Gambian men have more than one wife.

The Minister of Interior, Ousman Sonko is expected to unveil details of the new law, which will be made under provisions in the Children and Families Act. It came after women complained to the government of being virtual prisoners in their own homes.

Supporters say the ban on polygamy is needed to protect the rights of women and children. Speaking to What’s On-Gambia, the president of the Women’s Federation said: “Men in polygamous families aren’t good fathers. They struggle to financially support their children.”

She continued: “Some of them don’t allow their wives to work outside the family. So I am not surprised that the women are complaining of being virtual prisoners. I want to commend the government for coming up with the law and I hope it will receive the full backing of the National Assembly.”

For her part, former speaker of the National Assembly, Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay said: “We now live in a modern society, where the rights of women should be respected. Polygamous marriages are not healthy neither stable.”

The ban is expected to come into force in March 2015. The police would be able to drag people to court both for marrying more than one wife and attending a polygamous marriage ceremony.

But Hamat Bah of the NRP said: “A ban is unnecessary. We have a scarcity of adult males in this country.  What are we going to do with the single women? The new law will only promote promiscuity.”

An opinion poll by What’s On-Gambia found that 80 percent female students at the University of The Gambia strongly support the ban.

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