Polyandry - When Brothers Wed The Same Woman

Posted by M ws On Friday, October 12, 2012 0 comments
In the late 1980's to mid 1990's when I was teaching Sociology in an international school, my students were aghast when I broached the subject of polyandry (which was part of the syllabus on Family Structures). Then, we did not have access to internet resources and it was tough to convince those bright kids that indeed, it was still being practised then, even now.

Last week, reader YK brought to my attention the following article which was posted HERE.

Brothers Wed The Same Woman by The New Paper

When Tashi Sangmo was 17, she married a 14-year-old neighbour in a remote Himalayan village in Nepal.

As part of the package, she also agreed to wed his younger brother.

In ancient times, the sons of almost every family in the region of Upper Dolpa would jointly marry one woman but the practice of polyandry is dying out as the region begins to open up to modern life.

"Things are easier this way because everything we have stays in one family. It doesn't get divided among many wives and it is me in charge," said Ms Sangmo, who spoke through an interpreter. "Two brothers bring in the money and it's me who decides what to do with it."

When she wed Mingmar Lama 14 years ago, it was understood that her spouse's brother Pasang, then 11, would later join the relationship in a centuries-old practice thatpersists in a few isolated Himalayan villages.

Between them, they now have three sons aged eight, six and four.

"I wanted to share this bond with my brother because life would be easier for both of us," said Mr Pasang, 25, speaking at the family home in Simen village, 4,000m above sea level and five days' walk from the nearest town.

Traditionally part of the caravans that plied the route between Nepal and Tibet, the people of Upper Dolpa still follow the trade, leading yaks that bring salt from Tibet and rice from the southern Terai plains.

In the thin air high above the tree line, arable land is in short supply and farms are tiny.

But polyandry prevents the practice of each generation of a family dividing their holdings, and food supplies just manage to cover the locals' basic needs.

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