Ugandans Clash on Polygamy as Parliament Debates Ban
As Parliament debates a bill that would ban polygamy, Ugandans express mixed views about growing up in polygamous families, though 28 percent of married women in Uganda are currently in polygamous unions. Some say the practice is natural, while others say it harms children and violates women’s rights.
KAMPALA, UGANDA – Tom Kasekende, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, says he grew up in a polygamous home in which his father had several wives.
“I grew up in a polygamous family,” he says. “My father had many wives, some of them I did not even know. I would just hear about them as a child.”
He says that his family was Protestant but that his father’s many wives would often engage in witchcraft in order to compete for their husband’s attention.
“They were always bewitching each other to get my father’s attention,” he says.
Kasekende says that as he grew up, he decided that polygamy wasn’t a the way of life he would choose. “Children in a polygamous marriage are not loved by their parents, especially the father, who is always moving from one family to another,” he says. “As a man, the women are always bewitching you and you even get confused.”
He says that polygamy may have thrived in traditional societies, when the cost of living was relatively low. But he says that the high cost of living and rising inflation here make large families less sustainable. He says that today, having multiple wives, all with their own children, breeds greed, selfishness and poverty in homes.