Rome, 2 April 2008
(AKI) - Polygamous marriages are illegal in Italy yet are reportedly on the rise. While few Muslim immigrants or Italian converts to Islam admit such unions, Muslim scholars put the number nationwide at 15,000-20,000, La Repubblica daily reports.
"There is no doubt that the phenomenon exists, and that the number of polygamous unions growing as the number of Muslim immigrants to Italy increases," the paper said, adding that there are also cases of polygamous Italian converts to Islam.
No official statistics have been gathered on polygamous marriages in Italy, and estimates vary wildly from hundreds to tens of thousands, according to the paper.
The Catholic charity Caritas estimates there are just over 1.2 million Muslim immigrants in Italy, approximately one-third of a total of over 3.6 million immigrants.
The Italian state does not issue family welfare cheques to more than one wife per husband, unlike in Britain, where the government has since February been issuing family welfare cheques to all of a polygamist's wives resident in the country.