BBC report on January 15th, the leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan issued a decree urging the leaders and commanders of the organization to abandon polygamy. He said that this approach is easy to attract “enemy criticism.”
In Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some other Middle Eastern countries, polygamy is still legal. But Taliban sources say this practice has led commanders to pay more and more “beauties”-in many Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, women’s families are given a sum of money to guarantee the marriage when they get married. The practice prevails.
The decree came at a time when the Taliban and Afghanistan were at a sensitive political moment. The Taliban are negotiating with the government on the future of Afghanistan.
It is reported that the Taliban leadership is concerned about allegations that members of polygamous families are trying to raise funds to maintain polygamous families.
Most senior Taliban leaders have more than one wife, but this new law does not apply to those who have already had multiple marriages.
What does the decree say?
The two-page decree was issued in the name of Mullah Shibatura, leader of the Afghan Taliban, and did not expressly prohibit the second, third or fourth marriage.
But the decree warns that spending large sums of money on marriages may attract criticism from opponents of the Taliban.
The decree says: “If all leaders and commanders abandon polygamy, they don’t need to be involved in corruption and illegal behavior.”
However, the decree also provides for exceptions to support multiple marriages for men who have no children, had no boys in a previous marriage, married a widow, or have enough family wealth to support multiple wives.
In this case, a man who wants to marry multiple wives should first obtain the consent of his immediate superior.
According to Taliban sources, the letter has been distributed to ordinary members operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
How common is polygamy?
Polygamy has long been ubiquitous in the Pashtun tribes of Afghanistan and Pakistan. There, women have little say in who they marry and when.
In the patriarchal Pashtun rural society, the absence of children in marriage—especially boys—is often cited as a major reason for marrying more wives.
Another reason is the strained family relationship, which is usually thought to be caused by the wife.
Widows usually marry the brother of the deceased husband, even though the husband’s brother may be already married. This move is seen as an honor to protect widows and the family.
For those who are richer, polygamy is regarded as a status symbol. This kind of marriage is mainly caused by the custom of “beautiful gift”. The bride’s family accepts the bride price in return for marrying the man.
Rita Anwari, an Afghan activist based in Australia, said that in recent decades, economic pressures and changes in social attitudes have begun to hinder the development of polygamy. But in the modern world, “male desire” allows polygamy to continue.
Anwari stated that Islam allows men to marry multiple wives under “specified conditions”, “for example, the former wife is sick or infertile, but there are also some balance requirements.”
She added: “Unfortunately, men in power today forget all this in the pursuit of desire.” She accused them of using “little excuses” to marry new wives. She said: “When you can’t take care of them financially, physically and mentally, it is totally wrong to have a few wives.”
Most senior Taliban leaders have married several wives. The late Mullah Mohamed Omar, the founder of the Taliban, and his successor Akhtar Mansour have three wives.
The current Taliban leader Mullah Shibatura also has two wives.
When the BBC contacted Taliban sources and asked which Taliban leaders had multiple wives, they got a reply like this: “Which one doesn’t?”
Why are we trying to control polygamy now?
Over the years, Afghan government officials have pointed out that although Taliban leaders often lead luxurious lives, soldiers are barely making ends meet.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year: “The good news is that the senior Taliban fighters are tired of fighting, while the Taliban leaders are enjoying their first The fourth and fifth wife.”
There are also reports that Taliban commanders in Afghanistan used violence to marry their wives. This is a sensitive political period. The Taliban are negotiating with the government. This is a negative report they do not want.
According to reports, the financial pressure of the “beauty gift” also worries the Taliban leaders. The report shows that the price paid by commanders and combatants for the “beautiful gift” is between 2 million and 8 million Afghanis about $26k to $105k .
These costs are either paid from the funds of the campaign or raised through suspicious means.