A human rights organization called Fatki that works with refugee and immigrant women who have immigrated to Denmark has discovered that nearly one third of the refugee women the organization provides counseling to are living in a polygamous relationship.
In Denmark, Polygamy is illegal, but it is now being practiced on a more widespread basis by Muslims who are immigrating and choosing to practice Sharia Law instead of the law of Denmark. Because polygamy is illegal, Muslims who have multiple wives are choosing to not register their marriages with Danish authorities.
“Polygamy is forbidden in Denmark, but it is being practiced nonetheless,” Fakti head Lise-Lotte Duch said.
The Copenhagen Post reported on the rise of polygamy in its Danish communities, writing: “Ida Jensen, a social worker with the group, estimates that at least 30 women she has talked to have said their husbands have a second wife. “The women say this is quite a normal practice. They think it is a man’s right according to Islam,” Jensen continued. Although the subject is taboo, according to the women it is okay if a man takes another wife if the first one is incapable of performing her wifely duties.”
Since Islam permits men to have multiple wives, polygamy is a common practice among Muslim families.
However, despite the fact that polygamy is illegal, Danish authorities are having trouble prosecuting Muslims who have multiple wives, due to the fact that majority of the Islamic marriages are taking place under the radar and are not legally registered on paper.
According to Anika Liversage, senior researcher in integration and gender equality at the Danish Center for Social Science Research (VIVE), “It’s difficult to legislate on something that has no legal validity. People can simply go out into the woods and get married according to the law of Odin and Thor.”
Muslim leaders in Denmark said Islamic marriages do not require an imam or license to be performed, and can be conducted by average people.
“We do not hide the fact that it is allowed to have up to four wives in Islam, but we also mention that you cannot be registered with more than one woman according to Danish legislation,” said Mohammad Khani, Imam and teacher at the Imam Ali Mosque in Copenhagen.
In Denmark, Islam is the largest minority religion. A report in 2018 determined that 5.3 percent of the entire Danish population is Muslim, but the percentage has been increasing over the past several years due to mass Islamic immigration.
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