Guinea: Controversy about the new polygamy law


Guinean deputies passed a new civil code on 29 December 2018 to modernise its laws, but the text sparked controversy as it formally legalises polygamy. Guinea’s president is now trying to stop the new code. President Alpha Condé said, “How can Guinea adopt monogamy in 1960 and intend to legalise polygamy in 2018?” He refused to promulgate the new code and requested, in a letter on 4 January, that the parliament review the measure a second time. Associations of women are also mobilising and demanding the withdrawal of Articles 281 and 282, saying that the articles contradict Article 8, which recognises the equal rights of men and women. Deputies could still go ahead and approve the new code if they manage to gather an absolute majority by 31 January. Many deputies are supporting the new law, because they are themselves in polygamous relationships. So far, polygamy has been prohibited for civil marriages in Guinea. However, it is widely practised in religious marriages. Polygamy is a centuries-old practice in Africa and is broadly accepted in nearly half of African countries, particularly in ones that are majority Muslim.