Last week, the Beer Sheva Magistrates Court sentenced an Israeli Bedouin to seven months in prison, after he was found guilty of polygamy. The man, a resident of the Negev, was already married when he took an additional wife.
Although polygamy has been illegal in Israel since 1951, this is only the second time that a polygamist was sentenced to jail time
Polygamy harms the most vulnerable members of Bedouin society, causing poverty and neglect of women & children. It also has a far-reaching impact on Israel’s economy, as it is funded and driven almost entirely by National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) stipends and benefits.
Regavim has been studying and monitoring the practice of polygamy in the Bedouin sector for years. We presented the Ministry of Justice with a comprehensive report and analysis of the phenomenon, which acted as one of the factors leading to the formulation of the Ministry’s new directives to grapple with the problem. And we are members of the Inter-ministerial Committee that monitors the application and enforcement of these directives.
Well done to former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Attorney Emi Palmor, former Director General of the Ministry of Justice, for their leadership in bringing about this much-needed change!
We hope that strict sentences, coupled with educational initiatives and awareness campaigns among young Bedouin men, will bring an end to polygamy in Israel once and for all.
Regavim: Preserving Israel’s Resources, Restoring Israeli Sovereignty