Hege Storhaug, HRS
Stadig vekk ”hører vi om” flerkoneri, det vil si at folk som jobber i skole, barnehage, trygdekontor med mer, forteller oss om konkrete erfaringer med fenomenet. Min magefølelse er at praksisen har økt med den høye innvandringen fra Somalia, Afghanistan og kurdiske deler av Irak. Dette kunne blant annet vært sjekket ut ved å se på andelen aleneforsørgende kvinner i disse gruppene, altså kvinner som er skilt etter norsk lov, og eventuelt gjengifte blant de fraskilte mennene. Ifølge SSB er somaliere den gruppen i Norge med flest aleneforsørgende mødre. Det henger ikke på greip at muslimer topper en slik statistikk. Tabuet mot skilsmisse står svært sterkt i disse miljøene. Skilsmisse er så godt som synonymt med utstøtelse. Derfor; skilsmissen vil ofte kunne være proforma. Skilt etter norsk lov, like godt gift etter sharia, og mannen kan ekte offisielt en ny kvinne.
Med de formidabelt gode trygdeordningene for enslige forsørgere i et land som Norge er det mye å hente fra den statlige kassa hvis man er skilt, ikke-arbeidende mor til en ungeflokk på fire til seks barn (typisk antall for somaliske kvinner). Spørsmålet er: blir det mer flerkoneri her enn i opprinnelseslandet grunnet den statlige finansieringen? At menn skaffer seg flere koner kun grunnet den økonomiske gevinsten? For i opprinnelseslandet skal mannen selv kunne forsørge koner og barn. Det mener franske Jean-Marie Ballo som hjelper kvinner som flykter fra flerkoneri. Han sier rett ut at det ”avles” barn kun for pengenes skyld.
Polygamy is one of several issues, like forced marriage or genital mutilation, that France and other European nations face, as immigrants arrive with customs that conflict with the law of the land. But experts say polygamy in France can also be linked to fraud, where husbands hijack a generous social welfare system to line their pockets with state funds from each of their wives.
«They practice polygamy just for that,» said Jean-Marie Ballo, founder of an association that helps women escape from polygamous situations, Nouveaux Pas, or New Steps. «I’d go so far as to say that polygamists here (in France) are breeding for cash.»
Ballo said he’s even aware of cases where a legal wife’s papers are used for hospital care for a second – a health risk as medical records intermingle.
Rundt 2 000 kvinner Frankrike bruker ansiktstildekning, mens rundt 180 000 personer lever i polygame familier.
It’s hard to count how many polygamous families live in France because of the secrecy of the practice. But the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights in a 2006 report made a minimal estimate of 16,000 to 20,000 polygamous families in France, or some 180,000 people, including children. That compares to fewer than 2,000 women who are thought to wear burqa-style garments.
Som HRS skrev I boken Feminin integrering (2003), var flerkonero tillatt I Frankrike for innvandrermenn frem til 1993: ”Frem til 1993 var flerkoneri tillatt i Frankrike for ikke-franske borgere. Innvandrermenn kunne hente inntil fire koner til landet. En lovendring i 1993 satte en stopper for praksisen.”
For decades, polygamy was legal in France for immigrants arriving from any of about 50 countries where it is legally recognised. Historically, taking numerous wives was either a social and economic necessity in poor countries with high death rates, or a sign of external wealth or male domination.
France banned polygamy in 1993. At the same time, it launched a process of «decohabitation» to help multiple wives trapped in small apartments with numerous children to move into their own homes. Experts say that system has been largely successful.
But abuses thrive. Especially vulnerable are women who arrived in France after 1993 – often here illegally and, therefore, with limited means to extricate themselves.
Det sjongleres (selvsagt) med identitetsdokument. Slik kan eksempelvis barnebruder hentes på kone nummer en sitt pass.
The state «minimally resolved the problem of polygamy but didn’t provide the means to resolve it completely,» said Catherine Quentier of the association Rajfire, which helps women in distress negotiate French red tape to gain legal status or state-funded housing.
It’s hard to interview women who live in polygamy because associations say the current sensitive climate has aggravated their daily fears of being caught or their sense of shame. But the human rights report recounts a story that shows how multiple wives and children can lose their own identities.
A woman from Mali, where multiple wives are legal, arrived in France in 1981 at age 14 as wife No. 2 – using the documents of wife No. 1, whom the husband sent back home.
The woman, identified as S.Y., had three children under her new identity but bolted when wife No. 3 arrived. She could not reconstitute her real identity for herself and her children.
When the report was written, S.Y. had lost her job, was living in a room provided by an association and could not access her bank account. Officially, she no longer existed, the report said.
Å få barn blir som å sikre seg lønnsslipp.
Chantal Brunel, a lawmaker from the governing conservative UMP party, called last weekend for a region-by-region examination of the family subsidies program to stop corruption by men profiting from state aid to illegal wives. Brunel, who has written a book about violence against women, said she has polygamous families in her district east of Paris «and since 2004-2005 I have asked that the state stop closing its eyes.»
«To have children cannot become like having a salary,» she said.
At flerkoneri ikke er straffbart i Norge, som det sies her, er feil. §220 omhandler flerkoneri og har en strafferamme fra fire til seks års fengsel. At Unge Venstre ville legalisere flerkoneri, er en annen skål.
Other countries in Europe also struggle with polygamy. Fines and prison sentences, in some cases up to seven years, are the norm for those convicted of polygamy in Europe. An exception is Norway. In France, marriage to more than one person is punishable by a year in prison and a 45,000 (almost $60,000) fine.
However, the law is being challenged in Ireland. And in Cyprus, with a 5-year prison term, the court can take into account arguments that the accused’s culture or religion permits polygamy.
Resultatet av flerkoneri kan være katastrofale forhold særlig for barna i overfylte, små leiligheter med koner som er i bitter strid med hverandre.
Those who deal with polygamy also note that in Europe, numerous children can be found living in small apartments with two sets of fighting mothers. They take turns using the kitchen, the bathroom and sharing sleeping space.
«Polygamy is not at all adapted to the context of life in the West,» said Ballo. «There are conflicts, catastrophic hygienic conditions. Kids do poorly in school as there is nowhere to study.»
Ballo, whose Malian father and grandfather were both polygamous, said he helped «decohabit» 12 households with 26 wives and 145 children in Les Ulis, south of Paris, where his group is based.
The human rights commission report notes that «there is, of course, no question of generalising and considering all polygamous men as executioners.»
Ballo is more cynical: «There are always people in life who defend hell.»