Questions answered - Is the Human Specie Predominately Monogamous?

So in my last article, I tried to answer the question, are humans predominately monogamous?. 

This question I sure did answer by putting out the data. However, I have been asked many questions following the article release; question such as even though we predominately practice monogamy, are we naturally monogamous people or practice monogamy because society (government) has legally discouraged polygamy by banning it in a lot of countries? Is polygyny (a form of polygamy) peculiar to Muslims, and are there variants of polygyny known? Etc.

I will start this second of the series by answering the questions above.  Note, my aim is not to bring the argument for or against man been classified into the box of naturally been monogamous or polygamous; these you can research if you wish to (so many scientific proofs for and against the idea of man being naturally polygamous/monogamous that they balance themselves out -read the last paragraph of the previous article series). 

However, to answer the question are we naturally monogamy practising people as the data shows or we practice monogamy because society (government) has legally discouraged polygamy by banning it in many countries; the answer first lies in the percentage of people who practice it even where it is legally allowed to marry as many as you wish. The country with the highest polygamy rate in the world from captured data is Burkina Faso, at 36%, followed by Mali at 34%. Nigeria, my own country is at 28%; these three countries are freely allowed to do however as they wish with no restrictions except for the Muslims who are regulated by religion to restrict the number of wives to the maximum of four or individuals who go for court marriage. 

Even with the freedom to do as you wish with no government banning it, the percentage of monogamy practising family (regardless of the type of monogamy) is higher than polygamy. The lowest rate is 64%, i.e. Burkina Faso.  These show that even these countries are predominately monogamous practising countries.If one looks at the data carefully, some countries that supposedly ban polygamy allow polygamy on the front of religion or culture. The majority of the world either allow polygamy freely, or the issue is under political consideration. In those countries where it is under political consideration, people marry more than one without so many qualms. 

The countries/provinces that completely ban it and where it is illegal and the practice is criminalized are few compared to the world population. Of course, this means that if you are partnered in African countries, the probability of having a polygamous relationship is higher than if you live in any other part of the world. However, even with these and other nuances, we are still predominately monogamous practising people. The reason why are numerous and that we will explore in the next article. 

The second question is - Is polygyny (a form of polygamy) peculiar to Muslims and are there variants of polygyny known? Not only Muslims practise polygyny, although Muslims are the majority. Polygyny is practised by some Mormon sects, such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), traditionalist, and other religious sects.  Historically, the Chinese, the Indian subcontinent, traditional Native American, and ancient Hebrew society partly accepted and practised polygyny. Also, note that polygyny was accepted in ancient Greece until the Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church. 

In this 21st century, however, polygyny is more extensive in African than any other continent, regardless of religious affiliation. Also, it is more widespread in Muslim majority countries. Yes, there are variants of polygyny known. One is sororal polygyny. This is a kind of polygyny where the cowives are siblings. This kind of polygyny was often preferred in some society because of the belief that sisters from the same parents would be mutually supportive and argue less than nonsiblings. A critical rule for sororal polygyny is that the eldest sister in the family marries first and that as the other/others come of age, her younger sisters join her as cowives. I got to find that this was the practice in at least 40 Native American cultures during the 19th century. 

What do you think of the above? 

Feel free to drop your comments and questions in the comment box. 

Watch out for the third in the series.

Your psychotherapist

Hauwa Bello

Add Comment