Although it’s outlawed, polygamy is still practiced informally in Australia. Having more than one spouse is a long-standing and legitimate cultural norm in some Indigenous Australian, African and religious communities.
This week Insight speaks to people from diverse backgrounds about life in a polygamous relationship and the benefits and challenges of sharing a spouse. What it’s like for children growing up in those households? How do spouses negotiate jealousy? And why is polygamy against the law?
Producer: Meggie Palmer
Associate Producers: Kym Middleton and Sarah Allely
Web Extra: Meet Dhalulu
Insight went to Yirrkala in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory and spoke with Dhalulu Ganambarr-Stubbs. She is a senior woman in the community and grew up in a large family with seven mothers.
Meet Marc, Dorothy and Belle
Twins Dorothy and Belle are both in a relationship with Marc. Watch a snippet of their story.
A marriage of one individual to multiple partners of the opposite sex.
The marriage between one man and two or more women.
A relationship where one woman has multiple male partners.
A non-monogamous relationship with the knowledge and consent of all partners. There are various combinations and it does not necessarily involve marriage.
A relationship where members of a group of any size agree to be sexually exclusive to one another. Usually new members to the group are admitted only by mutual consent of the existing members.
A family unit where there are multiple husbands and wives at the same time.
Entering into a marriage when either partner is still legally married to another. Bigamy is illegal in Australia and the accused can face a five year sentence.