Kuwait has 'highest rate of polygamy, cousin marriages'

Kuwait has 'highest rate of polygamy, cousin marriages'
2 min read
04 December, 2019
Kuwait has topped the rates of polygamy amongst Gulf Arab countries
Marriage is a pressing cultural issue in the Arab world [Getty]
Kuwait has the highest rate of polygamy amongst the Gulf Arab states, along with over a quarter of them marrying their cousins, a new study has shown.

A new study, named "The State of Marriage in the Arab World", was revealed in the Arab Family Forum in the Qatari capital of Doha revealed polygamy rates in the Gulf between the years of 2010 and 2015.

Kuwait topped the rate of polygamy with 8.13 percent, followed by Qatar which has a rate of polygamous marriages of 7.88 percent and Bahrain which stood at 5.16 percent.

There was no data available for the three remaining Gulf Cooperation Council countries: Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE.

The data also revealed that the percentage of consanguineous marriages in Kuwait reached 34 percent during the years 1979-2010.

All the single ladies: The Arab world's 'spinster revolution'

Consanguineous marriages in the Arab world are traditionally acceptable, even preferred.

Parents justify this practice by saying they would rather marry their sons and daughters to close family - usually first cousins - to protect the family lineage and maintain honour.

Polygamy is also an Arab tradition and has even been suggested as a mechanism to "cure spinsterhood" as Arab women take hold of their destinies and postpone or refuse marriage.

In September, a candidate for the UAE Federal National Council for Shajrah pledged to promote polygamy to "eliminate spinsterhood" as a part of her election campaign.

Khawla Abdul Aziz al-Ali said if she was elected, she would "offer suggestions and effective solutions with the concerned authorities to create the appropriate conditions to increase the stability of the Emirati household".

She blamed families in the rise of "spinsterhood", saying some women have been betrayed by their families who did not approve of them becoming second, third and fourth wife during the "earlier years of their lives".

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