378 CHAPTER 13
marriages found that polygamy tended to negatively aect women: Women in polyga-
mous marriages reported more depression, anxiety, and problems in family functioning
and less self-esteem and marital satisfaction than did women in monogamous marriages
(Al-Krenawi & Slonim-Nevo, 2008). Furthermore, the spread of HIV throughout the
family of wives in a polygamous marriage is of great concern.
In the United States’ early history, Mormons practiced polygamy, but the Mormon
Church disavowed the practice in 1890 (Hertzberg, 2008). However, fundamentalist
sects that broke away from the Mormon Church continue to practice polygamy—despite
the fact that it is against the law in all 50 states (Kovach & Murr, 2008). Experts believe
that 30,000 to 50,000 polygamists live in the United States, including a growing number
of Muslims and evangelical Christians (Peyser, 2006). Polygamy activist groups are lob-
bying for decriminalization of the practice. ey maintain that individuals should have
the right to engage in the private conduct of polygamy without government interference.
Around the world, about 60 million girls under age 18—some as young as 8 years
old—are married. In Niger, 82% of girls marry before age 18; in a region of Ethiopia,
50% of girls are married before age 15; and 7% of girls in Nepal marry before age 10.
These child wives face forced sex, denial of education, and special health risks (Tamimi,
2011). They face few, if any, life options after marriage. Most have to leave school when
they marry, thus severely limiting their future economic opportunities (International
Center for Research on Women, 2009).
Health risks for child brides are numerous, and damage can be lifelong (Santhya
et al., 2010). Young wives whose bodies have not fully matured often experience trau-
matic childbirth: ey can be in labor for days, which can result in a dead baby and a
Marriage in Crisis
Many countries around the world consider the status and
role of marriage to be in crisis, but the specic concerns
vary greatly. For example, economic planners in Spain
would like the 50% of women between ages 25 and 29 who
are single to stimulate the country’s economic growth by
marrying earlier and having more children.
Austrian, French, Japanese,
Russian, and Korean govern-
ments want to increase the number of births, and some
even provide nancial incentives and preferential access
to housing and child care for people who have children,
regardless of marital status. For example, for a couple
having a second child, the
Russian government offers pay-
ment of $9,200, longer paid maternity leave, and nancial
assistance for child care (Niedowski, 2006).
Several countries are concerned about various kinds
of obstacles to marriage for men. Leaders in Saudi Arabia
and the United Arab
Emirates want families to lower
high bride prices so young men can afford to marry.
In Italy commentators criticize the 33% of single men
between ages 30 and 35 who still live at home, enjoying
their mothers’ cooking and housekeeping.
ments and people of India and China are worried about
the millions of men who by 2020 will be without women
to marry as a result of the imbalanced ratio of boys to
girls (Hesketh & Xing, 2006). The Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation funded a study in a rural area of India that
found that, among children under 6 years of age, there
are 628 girls for every 1,000 boys.
The greater number
of boys than girls has occurred because female fetuses
are often aborted and female infants are killed due to the
strong cultural preference for boys (Chung, 2006;
2006). In India, according to Hindu tradition, sons have
the important role of lighting their parents’ funeral pyres.
Sons will earn future wealth for the family, but the dowries
daughters require in order to marry are a nancial loss to
The Indian government has begun to offer
families scholarships for girls’ education to attempt to
encourage births of female children. However, the many-
centuries-old tradition of higher status for having male
children will be very difcult to change (Power, 2006).
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