Fraternal Polyandry: The Ideal Form Of Marriage

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What is marriage? To many of us marriage is defined as the contractual union between a man and a woman in which they are bound to one another and also share responsibilities ranging from the establishment of a sexual relationship, child-rearing to financial responsibilities. Generally, we can define marriage in 2 ways, namely:
1. Conjugal: “A conjugal relationship concentrates on the universal core functions of marriage, which are usually related to control of or rights over sexual activity, and the legitimisation of children.” (Kritzinger, 2016: 2)
2. Jugal: Can be defined as follows “marriage can also be conceived of as being a contractual union between two parties, involving an exchange of rights, goods and cultural obligations from one
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Fraternal polyandry (which can be defined as a type of marriage where 2 or more brothers get married to one wife) is the ideal form of marriage and family setting in this society for the reason that it ensures that there is only one set of heirs per family thus keeping family owned land intact within the family and any feuds over land and other inheritable properties are avoided (Goldstein, 1987:2). One of the disadvantages of fraternal polyandry is that generally it is the eldest brother who takes the lead in the household with the younger ones having to obey whether they agree or not. Children born in this setting are not seen as being the child of a specific brother but all the brothers are viewed as being the “father” though in some regions only the eldest brother gets called father and the younger ones are called “father’s brother” (Goldstein, 1987: 1). Tibetan society however does recognise other forms of marriage with monogamy and polygyny (marriage of one man to more than one woman) being common. Traditionally this form of marriage (fraternal polyandry) was typically arranged by parents with females especially having little to no say, as was the case in many other arranged marriages in different societies. In modern times though there has been a decline in this form of marriage with people opting to either be single or marry

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