Polygamists face tough choices in virus curfew - GulfToday

Polygamists face tough choices in virus curfew

couple 1

Pictre used for illustrative purpose only.

Abu Othman, like thousands of Kuwaiti men, has struggled to split his time between two wives living in separate homes amid the Gulf state’s strict lockdown to combat the coronavirus.

“My life has become so complicated,” the 45-year-old, who has 10 children between the two women, told reporters.

“I am constantly on the move between them,” he said, stressing that he could never choose one wife over the other.

The country has imposed some of the strictest measures in the Gulf to combat the spread of the virus, which has so far infected over 15,000 people and claimed 118 lives there.

Last week, Kuwait announced a nationwide “total” lockdown until May 30, suspending all but essential private and public sector activities.

Under the curfew, residents are allowed to shop for food only once every six days, after electronically obtaining official permission, and may otherwise leave home for two-hour evening walks.

Those who break the rules, which also include mandatory use of face masks outside the home, can be fined as much as $16,000 and jailed for up to three months.

But in response to appeals by scores of polygamists like Abu Othman to ease their restrictions on movement, the Kuwaiti authorities on Sunday introduced electronic permits to men married to more than one woman for one-hour visits twice a week.

Abu Othman married his first wife in 2001 and his second wife in 2006.

The two women live in separate houses in Al-Jahra, a predominantly Bedouin area 40 kilometres west of Kuwait City.

Abu Othman said he was trying hard to make sure neither of his wives feels neglected, especially amid a crisis that has seen much of the world virtually shut down.

But with all the restrictions in place to curb COVID-19, he said he has struggled to divide his time equally between the two homes.

“Sometimes police patrols understand my situation, while at other times I have to apply for permission claiming there is a ‘family emergency’,” said Abu Othman before the new “second wife” permission was introduced.

Abu Othman said he tries to spend equal numbers of nights in both homes, saying he considers himself lucky that the two women live in the same area.

Other men are not so lucky, such as Abu Abdulaziz, 35, who now lives with his parents, second wife and two children in Al-Jahra.

His first wife and their three children reside in the Saad Al-Abdullah area, about 15 kilometres away.

Agnence France-Presse


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