The Iraqi government is mulling the idea of promoting polygamy after years of war has left the nation with more than 1-million widows and a shortage of young unmarried men.
Politicians have floated financial incentives for men who marry widows
Polygamy had become increasingly rare in Iraq in the 20th century, but now demographic pressures may bring about its revival. Under current legal statutes, polygamy is illegal unless a judge authorizes it.
According to the, UN Assistance Mission for Iraq ten percent of Iraqi households are headed by women – in some neighborhoods the figure is as high as 18 percent.
Iraqi’s leading women are polarized on the sensitive topic.
Parliament member Nada Ibrahim supports the idea of polygamous marriage in principle - as long as a husband treats his wives with justice. She also believes that the government should provide more support for the war widows.
Widows are often young and don't have jobs, health insurance or social security. We shouldn't encourage them only to get married, she told the BBC.
Hana Edwar of the Amal charity strongly opposes to polygamous marriage.
It's about women's dignity, she said. Women need to be educated about their rights.
Polygamy is generally legal throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but their prevalence has likely decreased over the past several decades.