An answer (now deleted) at the new Islam.SE site made the following claim:

If one takes a look at society where polygamy is banned or discouraged, you will see that some men will always try to fulfill their need for more partners by illegal means; which gives rise to the ‘oldest profession in the world’: prostitution. Seldom has there been a demand for male prostitution in the annals of history.

The same claim is mentioned on this Islam site:

At this point, the apologist usually falls back on a defense of polygamy - claiming that it reduces prostitution, for example - while effectively conceding that men and women are equal in Islam except with[sic] they aren't.

And again in this news release (full article quoted, due to reports of unreliable paywall):

Kadyrov Says Polygamy Reduces Promiscuity

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said Monday that he supports polygamy among Russian Muslims because it reduces sexual promiscuity and prostitution.

“That’s a tradition we’ve always had. God allows Muslims to do so,” Kadyrov, 33, said in an interview broadcast by state-run RT television. “Is it better to have 20 lovers rather than four lawful wives?”

Kadyrov said he was not asking federal authorities to the change law, which prohibits multiple marriages. Polygamy makes men accountable to their wives and reduces philandering, he said.

Kadyrov is “married with seven children,” according to his web site.

Is it true that polygamous behavior (specifically polygyny) leads to lower rates of marital infidelity and/or prostitution?

  • 21
    In the end though: The muslim claim was about promiscuity. What is their definition of promiscuity? If you have four wives and sleep with them all, is that less promiscuous than sleeping with 3 that you aren't married with? Jun 25, 2012 at 19:29
  • 17
    I think @AlanEscreet may have a solution here, if we just apply it ad infinitum. If we simply declare that every man is married to every woman (or do it properly and say every person is married to every other person), we eliminate promiscuity, infidelity and (statutory) prostitution in one fell swoop.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 28, 2012 at 17:45
  • 5
    We have now had 5 attempts at answering this question. Each has resorted to speculations about economic theory and evolutionary psychology. None have actually looked at the data. Anyone want to try that?
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 4, 2012 at 16:49
  • 3
    "it's not promiscuity if you are legally married to all the partners you have sex with" is a weird definition of promiscuity.
    – Philipp
    Jan 24, 2020 at 13:24
  • 3
    Worth to note that many muslims actively practice "temporary marriages" that are, effectively, a way of hiding prostitution/casual sex behind a "religiously sound tradition". This evidently skew any prostitution or promiscuity statistics one tries to raise.
    – T. Sar
    Jan 25, 2020 at 17:24


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