Rethinking relationships

2016-08-23 16:20

The blesser-blessee or blessed trend is on the increase in South Africa. Parents, educationists, conscious driven people and the department of health are concerned about this increasing trend. Blessers (sugar daddies) spoiling young women (blessees) with cars, money, jewellery and holiday trips locally and abroad in exchange for “special services” is nothing new, but the increasing trend is worrying. This twisted trend is a serious threat to public health and this illicit “multiple” relationship is socially detrimental to the social fabric of the community in general and to the institution of marriage and family. It perpetuates the widespread idea that women can, literally, be bought and sold? Is the blesser and blessee phenomenon not a euphemism for high class “prostitution”?

Why should woman rely on others for an income which can objectify, humiliate or even harm them? The blesser, like in prostitution, gets to enjoy the company of a young woman, while the blessee or blessed gets to buy all the luxuries and accumulate freebies in exchange for her body, time and dignity.

Where did this strange phenomenon of “sugar daddy” or blesser come from? We need to educate and empower our youth about the dangers of such relationships and about being exploited by salacious, dishonest and evil men? These unscrupulous men should be educated on the harms of “blessing” young girls and ruining their lives and careers. Women should be respected, protected and treated lovingly and compassionately and not be objectified or used. Whatever her circumstances, women should be valued and not demeaned or humiliated.

Generally marriage is a monogamous union between two individuals, a male and female and some religions and cultures like Islam endorse polygyny.  An increased desire for coitus or sexuality doesn’t have to lead to adultery or fornication. There is an alternative to infidelity and that is polygyny. Polygyny protects the rights of women by giving them the full rights of a wife. Instead of being a secret mistress or “blessee”, with no rights, the second woman becomes an honoured and respectable wife with all the rights and privileges that come with being a wife. Similarly, children born will be legitimate and not “illegitimate”.  For these and other reasons, Islam permits polygyny as an alternative to adultery. So even if some may argue polygyny has many complications and disadvantages for the woman and children, it is still a better choice than having adultery become common in society. This is why Islam allows polygyny, a Muslim man can marry up to four women at any one time, and there are important and practical reasons for this. Islam is a way of life consistent with the intrinsic and natural behaviour of the human being, providing practical solutions to different situations, needs and desires and avoiding extremes.

According to scholars, the Quranic verses pertaining to polygyny were revealed after the battle of Uhud, in which many men were martyred, making many women widows and children orphans. Polygyny in Islam is therefore rooted in the notion of community obligations towards widows, orphans and divorcees and not just the satisfying of carnal desires.

It is accepted as a way to meet the different situations confronting human beings. A man may marry more than one wife only if he can be totally equal and truly just and fair towards his wives; otherwise he is not allowed to take more than one wife.

In addition to the above, the other conditions of every marriage must also be there, such as the ability to provide financially for the family and the ability to satisfy the emotional, psychological, vocational and physical needs of all wives.

In Islam or among Muslims, monogamy is commonly the rule or practise and polygyny is recognised and accepted; and this acceptance has diverse advantages, social as well as other. For example, the first wife may be barren, and to her polygyny may be a better option than divorce. Or, if the first wife is seriously or terminally ill, resulting in the husband’s sexual and other needs being unsatisfied then instead of committing adultery and exposing his wife to diseases, it is possible for him to marry a second wife and take care of his first wife also. Polygyny is not made obligatory but merely permitted, and is allowed only if the second woman consents to such marriage. It depends on the new women entirely. A man deciding to take a second wife must approach it correctly, cautiously and with compassion and diplomacy and do not do it in secrecy.

Among South African Muslims, it is not readily accepted by the woman, due to various valid and non-valid reasons and thus some men engage in un-Islamic practices, which harm or hurt women and the religion.

It is an unfortunate reality that many concessions are abused or are used inappropriately and polygyny is no exception. While there are some ill-fated or unhappy polygynous marriages, there are some successful polygynous marriages too — although one wonders about quality time, jealousy, equality or equity, dealing with children and other complications.

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