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Women must accept polygamy: Malaysian official

Says it will lower divorce rate because men want to "have fun"

A Malaysian lawmaker told parliament that there would be fewer marital problems and a lower divorce rate if Muslim women were taught to accept polygamy, news reports said Friday.

Ibrahim Ali, an independent parliamentarian, proposed moves to address the issue in response to complaints that women were always blamed for marital issues.

"Such problems happen because women cannot accept polygamy. From a preventive point of view, what about doing a big campaign so that women can accept polygamy?" Ibrahim was quoted saying in the Star daily.

The ethnic Malay Muslim lawmaker said women who are pregnant or who have "problems" when they hit their fifties do not understand that men still want to "have fun".

Fuziah Salleh, an opposition lawmaker, had earlier questioned the qualifications of Islamic sharia court counselors as she had received complaints from women that they were forced to take the blame for most marital problems.

"They are not counseled but given 'advice'. And every time, they are told that the woman is to be blamed. If it is a family problem, they must be patient. If they are beaten up, they must also be patient," she said.

Muslim men in Malaysia are allowed up to four wives. Activists and women's groups say polygamy is cruel and has deviated from its original purpose in Islam, which was to protect widows and orphans.

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 percent of its 27 million people are Muslim Malays. Polygamy is illegal for non-Muslims.