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A map of the world. Countries where polygamy is accepted are shown in green.

Polygamy is a word that comes from late Greek. It can be translated as many marriages. It refers to any form of marriage where a person has more than one spouse.[1] There is also a concept called group marriage. In group marriage, all the (adult) members of the group are responsible for all the children.

A man being married to more than one woman at the same time is called polygyny. A woman being married to more than one man at the same time is called polyandry.

Both forms have occurred in humans. Polygyny is much more common, and is practised by millions of people, mostly in Muslim countries, where a man can have up to four wives at the same time. In most non-Muslim countries, polygamy is illegal, and a person who has more than one spouse can be prosecuted for bigamy. Some countries, including India, only permit Muslims to be polygamous.

References[change | change source]

  1. Polygamy at socialsciencedictionary.org