Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Malaysian Muslim men satisfied with one spouse

AFP , KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysian Muslim men are allowed four wives under Islamic law, but a survey has found that the majority are satisfied with just one spouse, a report said yesterday.

The poll of 13,000 Malaysians by the Universiti Putra Malaysia showed that nearly 90 percent of Muslim men are one-woman men, while only five percent have two wives and 4.3 percent have three, the New Straits Times reported.

While bigamy is outlawed for non-Muslims, the survey, carried out last year to track behavioral habits that could lead to HIV infections, found that four percent of Chinese men and three percent of Indian men had two wives.

Couples interviewed by the newspaper told of their lasting marriages and their recipes for a happy partnership.

"You marry just once, that's all. You don't marry another for no reason. When you're contented with one person, why should you take another?" said Zainal Ibrahim, 71.

His spouse, Norshidah, 68, said a wife had to focus on her husband's strengths and acknowledge her own imperfections.

"Now women think they are equal. I don't agree. You must always respect your husband and know your place," she was quoted as telling the newspaper.

Polygamy is legal for Malaysian Mulsims, but the issue is controversial and has sparked campaigns by women's rights groups to curb the practice.

Islam's Sharia laws vary from state to state in Muslim-majority Malaysia, but they generally require the signed consent of a man's first wife before he is allowed to take a second.

Although Islam permits a man to marry up to four wives, he has to prove he has the financial means and ability to treat all wives equally.

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