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People & Ideas

Oct 7, 2009

Keysar Trad: My humble contribution to the polygamy debate

Decriminalising polygamy and removing its social social stigma will further guarantee the rights of women, argues Keysar Tradin response to Shakira Hussein's piece in yesterday's Crikey.

The Polygamy debate last year produced results. Thanks to Crikey, the ABC, Seven’s Sunrise, 2UE and a number of online publishers, the federal attorney general introduced laws to give some rights to spurned mistresses.

I feel honoured and privileged to have been chosen to make my humble contribution to that debate. I am delighted that I have offered a service to women in Australia.

This year, the Sydney Opera House and the St. James Ethics Centre got together and decided to host the Festival of Dangerous Ideas.  I was invited to resuscitate my argument from last year. Again, I saw this as an opportunity to serve the women of Australia.

I did not create the debate, it came to me, I do not like generating controversy, however, if it comes to me, I will address it forthrightly with outright conviction in the wisdom of my Creator Whose work I am honoured to do. Some unjustly view my faith in the wisdom of God as controversial.

We are still some way from finished with the debate on plural unions. Whilst we managed to get some rights for the mistress last year, we still need to take away the stigma from her and all the women who exceed the gender ratio. This ratio is not only determined by raw population numbers, one must also deduct from the male population the disproportionate number of male prisoners and any disproportionate number of males to females who pursue same gender unions.

Sometimes, it breaks my heart to be proved right as was the case with the British headlines yesterday about a successful doctor allegedly poisoning his mistress to bring about an abortion. Part of my argument to decriminalise polygamy includes the right of the second woman to bear children and the right of the child of such a relationship to live life without stigma. The second woman should not be treated as a mistress, she should be able to expect to be treated as a proper partner or spouse.

Yes, the Justinian facade that I previously mentioned has also influenced non-Greco/Roman societies with more countries frowning on the open plural relationships.

In modern society monogamy is regularly breached. Clandestine adultery is widespread. Therefore, decriminalising polygamy and removing its social social stigma will further guarantee the rights of women.

In this debate, some have theorised that in order to make such laws equal, they would like me to recognise polyandry.

The reality of decriminalising plural unions would produce a law that is non-discriminatory by nature. The secular system would be able to acknowledge both forms of polygamy. It would remain then up to the various religious traditions to decide which to bless for their own adherents. Plural secular marriages can go in whichever direction they choose, those people who do not follow my religious tradition are not obliged to live by its rules.

To dissuade from the eventuality of polyandry though, I offer the following rationalisations:

  1. The gender ratio pool (excluding societies that practice the horrors of gender-selective ab-rtion). Without even having to point at statistics, it is elementary knowledge that a disproportionate number of women are exploited through pr-stitution and p-rnography. Allowing these women the option to enter an open rather than a secret union with an attached man will save many of them from this form of exploitation.
  2. Relationships are not just about intimacy, they carry emotions as well as various forms of support. We see the impost of the commitment more clearly if we temporarily put the brief climactic conclusion aside. When we do so, it becomes salient that polygyny creates more responsibilities for the male and gives advantage to the woman.
  3. The paternity is more clearly discernable.

The question of support is easily addressed in such situation. As a general rule that can be fine-tuned, the non polygamous person in the relationship will have rights similar to those that exist today whereas the polygamist is limited to a share of what he or she had brought into the union. The polygamous person in a polygynous union is the male; it is the female in a polyandrous union. This suggestion would eliminate or reduce the risk of prospecting.

The polygamy debate that comes to me from time to time is another opportunity to promote honesty, openness and frank discussion in relationships. Without it, all we do is perpetuate suspicions and the ignorance is bliss myth that everything is hunky-dory.

Read Shakira Hussein’s article “Muslims moan: Why Keysar Trad? Why?” from yesterday’s Crikey here.


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6 thoughts on “Keysar Trad: My humble contribution to the polygamy debate

  1. Jim Reiher

    Since when is there really – I mean really – a polygamy debate? No offence intended to the author of this piece. But a real polygamy debate in Australia? It could never get off the ground.

  2. Nadia David

    Keyser, you’re kidding yourself. For starters, I’m not entirely sure what you were saying there. Seems you were too busy trying not to make statements that might offend, so you just didn’t say anything at all. Except that you don’t mind guys shacking up as long as they’re in prison, and polygamy is about so much more than just sex.

    But I agree with Jim, what debate? Polygamy isn’t illegal here except when everyone wants to marry each other. If I want to have a harem of men, I can. If I want to be one of ten ‘wives’, I can. The marriage part is only a certificate – I would have the same rights, under the new legislation, as any of the other defacto missuses around. Where’s the debate?

  3. Bernard Keane

    This could be the single most self-serving load of rubbish ever published in Crikey, and that’s saying something.

    If you’re looking for another partner Keysar take out a personals ad like normal people.

  4. james mcdonald

    You’ve all missed Keyser’s reasons:

    “I did not create the debate, it came to me, I do not like generating controversy, however, if it comes to me, I will address it forthrightly with outright conviction in the wisdom of my Creator Whose work I am honoured to do. Some unjustly view my faith in the wisdom of God as controversial.”

    Keyser is a prophet. A messenger. You don’t think it’s a legitimate debate, take it up with the Almighty.

  5. Irfan Yusuf

    Keysar, if you ever drove anywhere near my house, my devout Indian Muslim mother would be waiting on the front porch for you with a shot gun. She isn’t exactly a fan of the kind of arguments you put forward for polygamy as they display a fraudulent concern for women and are a cover for what are in fact grossly misogynistic attitudes of mosque presidents who don’t allow women (or indeed non-Lebanese men) to be full members of their association.

    Mosque presidents such as a former President of the Lebanese Moslems Association named Keysar Trad.

    But then, what would my “ammi” know? As you once said, India is a nation dominated by the lowest of the low …

  6. Jillian Whittaker

    I notice that there is no mention of one of the most significant benefits for a male of polygamous relationships in Australia. Multiple wives with children are deemed as single parents and get all of the financial benefits that comes with that legal status. If Keysar Trad had argued against that instead of the false concern with women who need “protection” from their own choices to become mistresses he may have a debate. Keysar Trad should be arguing that those who are in polygamous relationships should not be claiming this benefit and that the man should take financial responsibility for all of his wives and children. He is silent on this impost on the Australian social security system.

    Australian people have no reason to debate as there is no belief among the general community for the unequal relationships Keysar Trad prefers. If he were arguing that this cosy financial relationship, which is very lucrative for those who import second third and fourth wives based on other countries marriage laws, should be altered in the social security legislation he would have a point worth listening to. In fact, in total opposition to his argument, polygamy is not criminalised but rewarded financially. Children of de facto unions are not stigmatised but given every opportunity to succeed in life.

    Although Keysar Trad is delighted to offer “service” to Australian women there are very few who appreciate or want such a service. His attitude may sit well with those stuck in the past when women had no rights to own property or to make decisions for themselves, were denied education and were considered the chattels of men but it is out of kilter with community views in Australia. The only reason he is ever invited to a debate is so that the rest of the Australian population can have a laugh. He does the honourable Muslims who form the vast majority in Australia no service at all.