Make polygamy legal - sheik

Allow polygamous marriages - sheik

Sheikh Chami asked weekly to

conduct polygamous ceremonies 


MEMBERS of Australia's Islamic community believe polygamous marriages should be recognised to protect the rights of women.

Sheikh Khalil Chami of the Islamic Welfare Centre in Sydney's Lakemba today said polygamous marriages, although illegal,existed in Australia and should be recognised

"... Not an open door but in a way everyone will have control," he told Triple J radio's Hack program.

"It's a bit hard, very difficult, but unless we face it, how (do) we overcome it?

"If you know there is law that will help you, there is community will help you. Why not? Why not change the law?"

Sheikh Chami said he was asked almost weekly to conduct polygamous religious ceremonies.

While he declined to perform such ceremonies, he said, other sheikhs did not.

"There are a lot of sheikhs here without any qualifications, without any place," he said.

"They'll conduct that marriage no problem at all."

Islamic Friendship Association of Australia president Keysar Trad said recognising polygamous unions would help protect the rights of women in the relationship.

Mr Trad once proposed to another woman with the consent of his wife, Hanefa, but the second marriage did not proceed.

"I certainly would not have entertained the thought of having a relationship without a religious marriage and I thought the relationship with that person was developing to the stage where we had become too friendly with each other," he told the program.

"Rather than entertain any thoughts of an affair I thought the only decent thing to do was to consider a proper commitment to that person.

"This idea of plural sexual relationships, it is not so much frowned upon by society as long as these people don't say we want a polygamous relationship."

Mr Trad's mother was a third wife in a polygamous relationship overseas and he said the women had admiration and respect for each other and supported each other.

"In a sense, it's a compliment to the original partner that if he didn't find marriage to be so good why would he go into it again," he said.

"In a sense, he's saying that his first wife has made life like heaven for him so he's willing to provide the same service, love and support to a second woman."

He said women were choosing to enter into such marriages.

Mrs Trad said many people in polygamous marriages kept it a secret - not only because it was illegal, but because society did not accept it.

"Tell you the truth, the hardest part of it (is) the way the others perceive it not what's happened between me and him," she said.

Asked if it was just about wanting sex with more women, she said: "Yeah it can be, but having it in the right way instead of having it in like go to prostitute or just date".

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