Mosque advises polygamy better than divorce
A Muslim women's rights group has condemned a Melbourne mosque's advice that polygamy is better than divorce. The advice was given to a troubled married woman who had sought help through the mosque's Facebook page.
The Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights believes polygamy is rare among Australian Muslims.
However, it is calling on governments to do more to stamp out the practice where it does exist.
The advice was posted on the Facebook page of Melbourne's Preston Mosque.
It appeared to be in response to a query from a Muslim woman seeking help with her marriage.
An extract from the Facebook page read: "If a man is saying to his wife 'I will marry another woman', this is far better than saying you are divorced, every time he is upset.
"So if your husband is telling you that he wants to take another wife and you are not doing the right thing by him, then know that he is thinking straight and using a weapon that doesn't have severe consequences."
But Joumanah El Matrah, executive director of the Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, says polygamy does have severe consequences.
"The recommendation or the advice given in this posting is explicitly encouraging the woman to be accepting of a polygamous marriage," she said.
"But I think more implicitly, it is a request to the woman to basically stay in the marriage that is unhappy and not to put her needs forward as being important."
"The support for polygamy among the Muslim community we also believe to be extremely low, and I think generally among the community it's considered an inappropriate and distasteful practice."
Ms El Matrah admits it is impossible to know the degree to which polygamy is practised in Australia because she says it is associated with shame and embarrassment.
"I think it's really important to keep in mind that monogamy, not polygamy, is actually the norm in Muslim-majority countries," she said. (...)