Polygamy in France

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Polygamy is illegal in France, as of 1993, and has been the center of recent political debates due to surges of Malian immigrants living polygamously in the country. Due to such, stricter laws have been enforced to stomp out polygamy.[1]

The Economist estimates that in France 200,000 people live in 16,000 to 20,000 polygamous families, almost all of them Muslims of North or central African heritage.[2] French polygamists rely on government single parent payments and state housing benefits to support the multiple wives to whom they are married under Muslim, but not under French law.[2]


Polygamy was legal in the French island territory of Mayotte until 2009. This changed, however, when 95% of Mayotte citizens voted on March 29, 2009 to become the 101st department of France. Due to such, the island was forced to bar all forms of polygamous unions and other forms of practices that "contradict with French culture", including child marriages.[3] The island was consequently required to disallow recognizing polygamy by 2011, when the vote became effective.


  1. ^ France's Polygamy Problem
  2. ^ a b "Many Wives' tales," The Economist, May 8–14, 2010, p. 55
  3. ^ French island of Mayotte votes to change in status