Legalise polygamyous marriages to protect women: Australian cleric

June 24th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, June 24 (IANS) An Islamic leader in Australia has said that polygamous marriages exist in the country and the government should legalise them to protect the rights of women. Islamic Friendship Association of Australia’s Keysar Trad told a programme on the Triple J radio station that polygamists in Australia’s Muslim community would like their relationships to be legalised as otherwise in the case of the man’s demise, women were left in a vulnerable position.

“If this woman has wilfully chosen to enter into this relationship and make a lifelong commitment to this person to be married, it shouldn’t matter. If it was a business and the business had four partners, we’d recognise that, but why don’t we recognise it when it comes to consensual relationships among adults?” Trad said on the local radio programme.

Trad, whose mother was the third wife in a polygamous marriage overseas, said women admired, respected and supported each other in such relationships.

Polygamous marriages are illegal in Australia and those in it feel they are not accepted by society.

Sheikh Khalil Chami of the Islamic Welfare Centre in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba told the radio programme that he was asked to perform polygamous religious ceremonies on a regular basis. He said while he declined, other sheikhs did not.

“If you know there is law that will help you, there is community to help you. Why not? Why not change the law?. . .Not an open door but in a way everyone will have control. It’s a bit hard, very difficult, but unless we face it, how (do) we overcome it?” Chami told the Triple J radio programme.

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