Yes, it can. South Africa has in its constitution Muslim Personal Law which affords protection for women who are abused and do not get child and other support. A woman can take her case to the Muslim Judicial Council and get help. It is difficult enough for a man to have one wife never mind two, but under the constitution, he can be married to his first wife and take on another without breaking the law.
Protecting the rights of women
Polygamy can work if all the parties follow the rules and there are very many polygamous marriages where the parties have learned over time to overcome jealousy and accept change. God does not like divorce but permits polygamy so that the woman is not left destitute and her children will be cared for; not an ideal situation but the best under the circumstances. A woman should never be left without a roof over her head. The father of the children are held fully responsible.
Qur’anic reasoning on polygamy
Today women greatly outnumber men and even though I would not want to be in a polygamous marriage myself, I agree that it is better to have protection for women in place than not. God’s word on polygamy is that being in a polygamous relationship is not easy and that a man could never be fair, but to protect women God allows it but does not recommend it. If the woman is satisfied with the arrangement that they all discuss, it is permissible. In other words, polygamy is allowed, but not recommended. Surely, this is a better arrangement and better for both women if they can share a man where both women’s rights are protected. In the past, women had to put up with cheating husbands and fight for support. Is polygamy not better than facing another woman with a crowbar trying to break up a marriage? With time comes knowledge and there are many cases where polygamy works beautifully.
What do the women say?
The women are in favor of polygamous marriage and even spell out the benefits, which range as follows;
• they do not have to cook every day,
• they can go out more with their friends,
• they have three or four nights when they do not have to share a bed,
• they have the car to take the children to school,
• they can eat what they want, and plan their life better with the three or four nights off. Is this not a better deal than struggling by one’s self?