Whether sent by mistake to their online subscribers or as a reminder that The Law Commission holds some fascinating pieces of history in its archives, a pioneering consultation from 1968 on Polygamy which landed in our inbox, is our post of the day.

From the different types of polygamy encountered (there were four), to the leading case at the time called Hyde v Hyde, the consultation takes you through a ground breaking moment in human rights and family law. It was also ahead of its time – it attempts to protect Muslim women living in England,  married into polygamous marriages under Islamic Law, with cultural sensitivity and grace.

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The consultation looks at the limits of the leading case in the context of women’s and children’s rights, circumstances in which polygamy could be recognised and highlights the tricky entanglements that came into play when parties tried to divorce.

Like most moments that change the course of history, this report is as sad as it is beautiful. It represents a struggle to come to terms with a growing awareness that women and children are human beings with the right to legal protection, and religious and moral principles that fit uncomfortably with a need to offer relief to those suffering under polygamous arrangements. All of these things make this document a must read.

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