Staunton, April 1 – Despite being against Russian law, more than one Daghestani man in five has two or in some cases three wives, an arrangement permitted under certain conditions by Islamic law, according to recent research. Elsewhere in the North Caucasus, polygamy is also common, although not as widespread as in Daghestan.
Irina Kosterina, head of the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Russia, says that her organization in 2016 asked people in four republics of the North Caucasus – Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia, Chechnya and Daghestan, about polygamy (bakdar.org/institut-uzakonennyx-lyubovnic-pochemu-na-severnom-kavkaze-mnogozhenstvo-snova-stanovitsya-modoj/).
Daghestan was the leader with 14.7 percent of the men saying they had two wives and 5.9 percent, three. In Chechnya, the respective figures were 11.1 percent and two percent; in Ingushetia, 6.7 percent and zero; and in Kabardino-Balkaria, 9.7 percent and 3.2 percent, Kosterina continues.
Sometimes the women live all together in one house, but more commonly, they live separately, often in cities far from one another. That precludes the equal treatment that Islam requires for such arrangements and leads to ill-feeling especially between the first and second wives, she reports.
Nonetheless, many Muslim men in the North Caucasus press for what often is little more than a “legalized lover” arrangement by insisting that women who resist becoming a second or third wife are not “good Muslims.” And many women accept because marriage even as a second or third wife is the only path to financial security and status within these Muslim societies.
She and other experts say that however that may be, bigamy and polygamy are inappropriate and unacceptable under current conditions and that women in the North Caucasus should have more options so that they will not continue to be forced into such demeaning circumstances.