Polyandry: Marriage with More Than One Man | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
Futurist Educator

19 April 2008

Polyandry: Marriage with More Than One Man

This type of marriage is, not surprisingly, very rarely found around the Globe. It occurs among populations where there are fewer women than men. Female tendencies to find husbands out of a sack first appeared among traditional matriarchal societies. In such primitive groups there was a tradition to kill baby girls in order to reduce the occurrence of births. As a result the female population gradually decreased in comparison to the male population -- and thus the term, "It's a Man's World"?

Polygamy, on the other hand, is when a woman or man is married to more than one spouse. Polygamy is a term which is most often used when describing how a man is married to more than one woman. This description is incorrect because the concept of polygamy means a situation where either a man or woman is married to more than one spouse. The situation where the man or woman is married to more than one spouse can be sorted into different sociological categories and concepts. These include how a man can be married to more than one woman (polygyny) and how a woman can be married to more than one man (polyandry).

Polyandry in human relationships occurs or has occurred in Tibet, the Canadian Arctic, Zanskar, Nepal, Bhutan, Ladakh, the Nymba, and Sri Lanka, and is known to have been present in some pre-contact Polynesian societies, though probably only among higher caste women. It is also encountered in some regions of Mongolia, among the Mosuo people in China, and in some Sub-Saharan African and American indigenous communities. In other societies, there are people who live in de facto polyandrous arrangements that are not recognized by the law .

Sociologist Hilmi Ziya √úlken made the following statements about the prevalence of polygamy and monogamy;

"Male dominance since the evolution of primitive societies and his first class distinction being his gender distinction have meant that the single husband framework has proved its sovereignty. However in some places, distinctive economic circumstances and in other places, certain historical periods, have all brought about a framework of marrying many husbands. This is apparent in the Fratri region of Australia."


Although historically many societies witness single husband marriages, many women have married more than one man due to the geographical conditions and economic problems. For example; When there was limited land for usage in Tibet, a group of brothers all married the same woman. By marrying the same woman they were able to produce fewer children and avoid a split in their future inheritance. Consequently they were able to establish financial security to a certain degree.

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