Italy: Around 15,000 polygamists living in country, immigrant party claims

Rome, 5 Feb. (AKI) - The president of Italy's Immigrant Party, has urged women who are victims of polygamy to call a special helpline for female victims of violence. "There are at least 15,000 cases of polygamy in Italy," said Mousapha Mansouri in a statement.

"We invite victims to denounce their plight," he continued.

Mansouri and his colleagues have for years reported cases of men who have converted to Islam with the sole aim of being able to have several wives.

It is estimated that there are between 15,000-16,000 polygamous marriages in Italy, he said.

Polygamous marriages are totally illegal in Italy, but imams presiding over such 'ceremonies' leave no paper trail in order to avoid prosecution, Mansouri noted.

"For this reason, we are appealing to the victims - the wives - to encourage them to denounce such abuse," Mansouri said.

The 'Never alone again' helpline (800911753) was set up by the Acmid-Donna non-governmental organisation and the Nando Peretti Foundation to help Arab and other women who are victims of polygamy. Operators are available who speak Arabic, French, English and the Moroccan dialect.

Muslim convert and director of Islam Online's Italian website, Hamza Piccardi, told Adnkronos International (AKI) however that he believed Muslim immigrants who have several wives should not be penalised.

"If a foreigner arrives in a European country with four wives, he should not be reported to the police," said Piccardi, who is the former president of Italy's umbrella Muslim group UCOII.

Commenting on a report on Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Piccardi said that Britain was right to pay welfare benefits to polygamous immigrants, while Italy was wrong not to.

Unlike in Italy, a polygamous immigrant is allowed to bring his wives with him to Britain, if he married them in his home country, Piccardi noted.

"Italian legislation is unfair, because in the immigrant's country of origin, all his wives are lawful," Piccardi said.


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