The government of Eritrea recently ordered men in the country to marry at least two wives, threatening any man refusing to do so with jail time. It is said to be coming in order to ‘help’ the situation of male shortage caused by enormous casualties suffered during the civil war with Ethiopia.

This order was contained in a statement written in Arabic by the highest official of religious law in the country; the grand mufti. Copies of the statement surfaced on social media sites on Thursday last week. In the statement, Eritrea called for all men in the country to marry at least two wives and the government assured the men that it would pay for the marriage ceremonies and houses. Read the translation below:

Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of religious affairs has decided on the following :
“First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labor. The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment.”

Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. With its capital at Asmara, it is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast. The northeastern and eastern parts of Eritrea have an extensive coastline along the Red Sea, across from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The nation has a total area of approximately 117,600 km, and includes the Dahlak Archipelago and several of the Hanish Islands. Its name Eritrea is based on the Greek name for the Red Sea, which was first adopted for Italian Eritrea in 1890. In May 1998 to June 2000, more than 150,000 Eritrean soldiers were killed during the secession war from Ethiopia.