Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Polyandry Definition:

The having of more than one husband by a wife.

Related Terms: Polygamy, Bigamy, Polygyny

A species of bigamy or polygamy but in reference to the wife who has more than one husband; one woman with multiple husbands.

In Reference re: Criminal Code, s. 293, Chief Justice Robert Bauman used these words:

"Polygamy is capable of broad and narrow definitions. At one extreme, polygamous in the zoological sense describes an organism that will engage in mating behaviour with more than one partner in the course of its reproductive life. By this standard, most Canadians are polygamous and most polygamy is innocent.

"Similarly, etymologically, polygamy includes polygyny (one man with multiple wives) and polyandry (one woman with multiple husbands) and indeed might even be used to describe some multiple-partner same-sex relationships."

Polyandry is prohibited in most jurisdictions.

In Muslim law, polygyny is allowed (i.e. men only, who may have up to four wives), but polyandry is not permitted.

Note also this from the pen of Justice Douglas of the Supreme Court of United States in Cleveland v. United States:

"There are four fundamental forms of marriage: (1) monogamy; (2) polygyny, or one man with several wives; (3) polyandry, or one woman with several husbands; and (4) group marriage.

"The term polygamy covers both polygyny and polyandry."

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