Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Multiple Marriage Socially Acceptable in Tajikistan

Publisher Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Author Orzujon Bedimogov
Publication Date 16 November 2012
Cite as Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Multiple Marriage Socially Acceptable in Tajikistan, 16 November 2012, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Although polygamy remains illegal in Tajikistan, the practice is now so common in this Muslim-majority society that no one bats an eyelid any more.

A recent survey by an NGO in the southern city of Qurghon-Teppa polled both polygamous husbands and the wives in such marriages, and found that the latter suffered a range of disadvantages including abuse and wrongful deprivation of legal rights.

The study comprised 250 of each sex and covered large enough parts of the south, east and north of the country to be representative of the overall picture.

For women, the deciding factor in agreeing to become someone's second or third wife is often economic – they have no other way of sustaining themselves.

They are married only by the Muslim rite, as is increasingly the case even with "first" wives. Since their marriage is not registered with the state or recognised in law, they have few entitlements or protections – and often lack any awareness of the rights they and they children do have.

Tajikistan suffers from a lack of men. The imbalance created by mainly male deaths in the 1992-97 civil war persists, and these days, younger men are absent for long periods, working as migrant labour in Russia and other countries.

Some men marry a second time if their first wife has not given them a male heir. For others, the ability to maintain two households is a mark of status.

Copyright notice: © Institute for War & Peace Reporting

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