A British-Pakistani man is trying to take the idea of polygamy, which has roots in Muslim culture, and make it mainstream.
Entrepreneur Azad Chaiwala’s has set up two websites to help connect would-be polygamists with likely partners worldwide.
“This is not a dating site. It’s for people who are serious about marriage,” said Azad Chaiwala, the founder of SecondWife.com and Polygamy.com.
According to Chaiwala, about 3,600 Canadians as well as thousands of Britons, Americans, Australians and people from the Gulf countries are registered on the website. Since 2014, he says, the numbers of people coming to the sites have topped 30,000 and he believes the numbers will only increase, forcing governments to think about legalising polygamy.
Although the original site founded in 2014 was exclusively for Muslims, Chaiwala later founded another one ‘open to everyone’ as more people from other religions began to show interest.
The websites aim to connect suitable partners by matching detailed personal information and preferences. Free membership rates one profile picture. For a monthly membership starting at $15, there is unlimited browsing, with an upgrade fee added to contact a prospective partner.
“The sites are public because they’re not an invitation to break the law, which in Western countries prohibits polygamy. Weddings would be performed by religious officials or in ceremonies among friends, without official registration. If the pair is in a committed relationship, there’s no need for a piece of paper,” he said.
How does one ensure that a member is seeking a committed relationship? Chaiwala’s team verifies that emails and IDs are valid and the images sent are vetted for “decency.” He adds that the site is not for mail-order brides and he insists that seekers and their prospective partners should live in the same area, and their location is checked to make sure it matches their stated country.
Chaiwala, who himself grew up in a monogamous British Muslim household of Pakistani background, knew at the age of 21 that he wanted to be in a polygamous relationship. When he married in 2005, “I let my wife and her family know how I felt. They were apprehensive, but they accepted it.”
He came up with the idea for the website when he went looking for a second wife and says he made his first million by the time he was 21. However, even after 11 years of marriage and two children he is “still monogamous.”
So why do men look for multiple marriages? “Men can seek lots of relationships outside marriage — fast dating, strip clubs, visiting prostitutes,” says Chaiwala. “They have their desires fulfilled and they walk away without any accountability. With polygamy it’s honest, it’s responsible and there’s nothing to hide. Men share their love and resources with their wives and children and families stay together.”
Why would women choose to live in a polygamous relationship?
According to Chaiwala, polygamy is “natural” for men. However, at least 50 per cent of his website users are female.
They are “educated, successful career women” who want marriage but may lack the time to devote to a partner, he shares.
New Statesman associate editor Jemima Khan provides a compelling reason why women sign up to the website: “If you’re divorced, widowed or over 30 and Muslim, finding a husband in (Britain) can be a challenge.”
An East London Muslim matchmaker told her he got up to 10 requests a week from women “comfortable with the notion of a part-time man. Career women don’t want a full-time husband. They don’t have time.”
This article originally appeared on The Star