Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Legalizing Polygamy in Turkey

Excerpts from an article in Hurriyet newspaper entitled:

Istanbul family consultant suggests allowing polygamy

A family consultant and life coach who conducts seminars on inter-family communication for Istanbul municipalities has suggested legalizing polygamy, citing both secular and religious arguments in support of her position. 

“A man looks for friendship, sexuality, motherhood and good housekeeping qualities in a woman. Unless you possess these attributes, you ought to be ready for being cheated upon. This is a righteous search for a man,” said 35-year-old Sibel Üresin, who has worked for the largely conservative municipalities of Fatih, Ümraniye, Bahçelievler and Eyüp, among others.

“A healthy woman who analyzes what she will have to go through in the case of a divorce should, in my opinion, consider polygamy as a form of salvation.”

“Rich men with solid careers and lots of sexual power can sometimes choose polygamy. No woman would ever become the second wife of a poor man. Men go after women who are more flirtatious, laugh more and who can satisfy them sexually. If I were a man, I would have been polygamous,” said Üresin, arguing that legalizing polygamy would empower women who are already engaged in polygamous marriages.

So let me get this straight. A polygamous marriage is a form of "salvation" for  a woman because divorce is such a hassle. If you don't make the grade, then wives should expect men to cheat of them. (Shame on YOU, ladies!)

I know what I think of the statements. But what to you think?


  1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I've been telling my husband for years he needs to go to the village and find us a good wife, a nice 16 year old girl, well-trained, in need of a nice family. That way I could come home every day to a clean house, a hot meal and a fresh martini. That would be my salvation, in that it would save me a lot of bullshit and crap I'd rather not deal with.

    I promise to take real good care of her too.

    On the same note, I wouldn't mind having a couple extra husbands around. One to earn us some extra money and keep track of stuff like bills, another to act as sort of a cabana boy/gardener/fixer of things like broken toilets, and a third to help our wife with things like cleaning up puke, night-feedings, and poopy diapers (I'll relegate future baby-having to the new wife as well). I wouldn't want our wife to have to do all that crap work on her own. She might get dissatisfied and I wouldn't want her to cheat on us.

    One big happy family! Maybe these AKP sh*ts are onto something-- they just didn't think it through to its logical and most fulfilling conclusion.

  2. Bulent MurtezaogluMay 26, 2011 at 12:48 AM

    Actually there's another angle. These 'marriages' exist and the law doesn't recognize them. This leaves the women -- who're alreay in the kind of shape that pushes them into being a second or third wife -- completely unprotected. The piece does mention this in a way. This problem exists with or without the law, and what AKP brings to the scene are people who actually do it who are in powerful positions. Once again Jenny's coffeehouse for English-speaking Turks has an entry on this:

    This is a tougher problem than it first appears to be. Sooner or later the climb of this kind of religiosity may end but these people will still be around with those women who're nth wives to rich guys will be hitting old age and perhaps getting dumped. What then?

  3. It's an interesting idea. My first reaction to this article was one of disappointment that a woman could betray other women by suggesting polygamy should be legal. But of course, although not legal, polygamous marriages do still exist here...I believe there are one or two examples in our village.

    I guess it depends on the women involved. Turkish women on the whole are more subservient and eager to please their husbands, whatever it takes. They also maintain excellent relationships with other women, so I could see how it could work.

    But I do get angry at the idea that we have to accept the fact that men here get all the choices...that they can do just as they like, but women can't.

    OK...let's embrace polygamy...make it legal BUT make it equal..let wives take more than one husband too...yeh right....Can you see that happening?

  4. Bulent MurtezaogluMay 26, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Actually, if they have the money and power women can do whatever they want. Wealth enables people to ignore whatever constraints the society imposes on them.

    As for women getting multiple husbands, it wouldn't bother me. Marriage (including gay one) can turn into simple contract that the government recognizes and enforces and there can be kinds with a stipulation for monogamy. I don't see that happening here, of course.

    As things stand, those first [legal] wives of the polygamists may actually be in a legal position to really hurt their husbands (alimony, getting half the wealth etc.). Keeping mistresses (which the additional wives are, legally speaking) are -- I believe -- recognized by the law as a reason for the wife getting a divorce. If the present wave of this particular kind of religiosity dies down and loses political power we may see lawyers specializing in that kind of stuff emerge. There are grumbles in even the AKP-friendly press that people who are now acquiring money and power through political connections are getting more wives as part of their climb upwards. When that political power's gone, that money will be there and the free market may do its thing and produce services to get a piece of it.

  5. Finally, I am able to comment on my OWN blog.

    Your legal concerns are certainly justifiable but I somehow wonder if Turkey really needs another reason to tie up the courts in such a way.
    @ Stranger and Ayak
    As you point out, why shouldn't women be allowed this kind of arrangement. But THAT's something the family coach ignored.
    So...not only does it create a separate set of laws for men and for women (because obviously this multiple marriage arrangement applies ONLY to men) but also a separate set of laws for the rich and the poor. Therefore, it is no great wonder that many people outside of Turkey question whether the principles of democracy (namely, the equality of all people AS AN STANDARD or a GOAL- even if it cannot be successfully achieved in practice) are even understood by some of the people in charge.

    The strangest part- to me- is that this woman is allowed to give professional advice at all.


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