Looking for a second wife? There’s a website for that!5,600 views
Love your wife? This man wants to help you to find another
Azad Chaiwala founded SecondWife.com to help Muslim men find exactly that, but he says he’s seeing growing demand from women, non-Muslims and people seeking polygamous love in monogamous lands — like Canada.
Looking for loves in all the wrong places?
Now there’s a website for that. In fact two, based in Britain, and set up to connect would-be polygamists with likely partners worldwide.
“This is not a dating site,” says Azad Chaiwala, the founder of SecondWife.com and Polygamy.com. “It’s for people who are serious about marriage.”
So serious, in fact, that they want more of it. And that, Chaiwala says, includes about 3,600 Canadians as well as thousands of Britons, Americans, Australians and people from the Gulf States. Canada is now eighth on the country list of responders.
And, he adds, the service is not exclusively for Muslims, although the original site, founded in 2014, was aimed at them. After interest swelled, he launched the second site, “open to everyone.”
The sites are public, Chaiwala says, because they’re not an invitation to break the law, which in Western countries prohibits polygamy. Weddings would be performed by religious officials or in ceremonies among friends, without official registration. If the pair is in a committed relationship, “there’s no need for a piece of paper,” he says.
Like dating sites, the polygamy sites operate by matching detailed personal information and preferences. Free membership rates one profile picture. For a monthly membership starting at $15, there is unlimited browsing, with an upgrade fee added to contact a prospective partner.
Although there is no way of ensuring that a member is seeking a committed relationship, Chaiwala says his team verifies that emails and IDs are valid and the images sent are vetted for “decency.” He adds that the site is not for mail-order brides: seekers and their prospective partners should live in the same area, and their location is checked to make sure it matches their stated country.
But, says Nathan Rambukkana, author of Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere, some members of the non-Muslim site are looking for more “polyamorous” relationships than conventional polygamy, in which one man may have two or more partners.
“The notion of being multiply married is becoming more popular, especially around those who are nonmonogamous, and believe that our definitions of marriage don’t encompass the reality on the ground,” he says.
What’s the allure of polygamy in an age when multiple relationships are common, there are apps for cheating and few bat an eyelash over non-traditional living arrangements?
“Men can seek lots of relationships outside marriage — fast dating, strip clubs, visiting prostitutes,” says Chaiwala. “They have their desires fulfilled and they walk away without any accountability. With polygamy it’s honest, it’s responsible and there’s nothing to hide. Men share their love and resources with their wives and children and families stay together.”
Chaiwala himself grew up in a monogamous British Muslim household of Pakistani background, and says he knew “at the age of 12” he wanted a polygamous future. When he married in 2005, “I let my wife and her family know how I felt. They were apprehensive, but they accepted it.”
He describes himself as an “entrepreneur” who made $1 million by the time he was 21. The idea of the website came to him when he was looking for a second wife. Since 2014, he says, the numbers of people coming to the sites have topped 30,000: a claim that can’t be verified. But he believes it will soon be much higher. And eventually governments will be forced to rethink legalizing polygamous unions.
In Britain, statistics show that up to 75 per cent of Muslim marriages are not registered. There are no statistics for non-Muslims.
Why would 21st century Western women choose polygamy?
In ancient times it was a practical solution for those who were widowed and impoverished by wars or disasters, needing male protection. Today, it’s often identified with forced and underage marriage, sexual abuse and religious extremism.
Chaiwala maintains that polygamy is “natural” for men — but at least 50 per cent of his website users are female.
They are “educated, successful career women” who want marriage but may lack the time to devote to a partner, he says.
One compelling reason to sign up, writes New Statesman associate editor Jemima Khan, is “if you’re divorced, widowed or over 30 and Muslim, finding a husband in (Britain) can be a challenge.”
But in a series of interviews with Muslim women who chose polygamous unions, she found echoes of Chaiwala’s results. An East London Muslim matchmaker told her he got up to 10 requests a week from women “comfortable with the notion of a part-time man. Career women don’t want a full-time husband. They don’t have time.”
It’s still a legal leap from non-traditional relationships to marriage, and polygamy in Britain has been opposed by both liberal Muslims and non-Muslims who argue that it disadvantages and denigrates women. Nor have attempts at decriminalization succeeded in the U.S. in spite of popular TV shows that highlight polygamous lifestyles of religious cults.
In Canada, Muslims who might have multiple wives overseas must register one official marriage partner, usually the first wife, and others they have previously married are not considered legal spouses. But partnerships without legal endorsement are more difficult to track, which can leave second wives and their children unprotected. Meanwhile, first wives may find themselves in polygamous relationships against their will.
“It’s complicated,” says Rambukkana, an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo. “The law is about protecting women (from polygamy) but it means that women not legally married may live in social isolation outside the law. It creates a quagmire of legal and social issues.”
Chaiwala, meanwhile, is hopeful that things will change. For the status of polygamy and for himself. After 11 years of marriage and two children he admits he is no advertisement for his websites. “I am,” he says, “still monogamous.”