Italy grapples with polygamy

Thousands of polygamous marriages have sprung up throughout Italy, as a by-product of fast and voluminous immigration of Muslims to the country. Souad Sbai, a Moroccan-born Italian lawmaker believes that Italy has turned a blind eye to the phenomenon. It is absurd that in a civilized country like Italy, so little is acknowledged about this, says Sbai. Sbai estimates that 14,000 polygamous families live in Italy, while other estimates put the number higher. Sbai is convinced that Muslim polygamists in Italy practice a more fundamentalist and abusive form of marriage, often imprisoning women and confining them to a life of solitude, wholly dependant on their husband. Many of these polygamous families take advantage of the orfi marriage – a less formal union that is performed by an imam, which does not carry the same social and legal standing as a lawful marriage.