The Adverse Effects of Polygamy on the Rights of Women: A Case Study in Gedeo and Sidama Zones

  • Gebremeskel Hailu Tesfay
Keywords: adverse effect, cultural practice, polygamy, rights of women


A variety of researches conducted in diverse contexts of Ethiopia found that polygamy type of family relationship hinders the realization of the rights of women in many respects. This research inquires whether the polygamous life style practiced in Gedeo and Sidama Zones adversely affects the rights of women in the same way. To deal with this question, the research has reviewed the legal status of polygamy under the international human rights instruments ratified by Ethiopia and the Ethiopian legal system. It also scrutinizes how polygamous marriages affect the rights of women in Gedeo and Sidama Zones using interview and focus group discussions. The study finds that while the prohibition against polygamy is presumed in the constitutional provisions, there is leniency in the subsidiary laws in Ethiopia. This practice is found to affect the social, economic, and civil rights of women in the study areas. Based on these findings, this article recommends that the Federal and SNNPR governments should revisit their respective laws to outlaw polygamy. Besides, to enhance voluntary compliance of the laws, educational campaigns have to be conducted revealing the adverse effects of polygamy on women and the society as a whole.