Men in Eritrea have been asked by the President Isaias Afwerki-led government to marry more than one wife or risk being jailed for life.
This is contained in a statement in Arabic by the Grand Mufti (the highest official of religious law in the country) which scanned copy 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.
According to the government, the order is because there is an acute shortage of men occasioned by causalities during the civil war with Ethiopia.
Afkinsider.com said the document, which could not be independently verified, warned that any man or woman who opposes the decision “will face a life sentence”.
The document which is in Arabic, says, “Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances 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 labour.
“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment.”
More than 150,000 Eritrean soldiers were killed during the secession war from Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000. At the time Eritrea had about four million people.
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.