FALSE: Eritrean Men Are Being Forced to Marry Multiple Women

A news article reporting that men in Eritrea were being forced into polygamy to raise the country's birthrate was a hoax.

  • Published 28 January 2016

Claim

Due to a shortage or men, the Eritrean government has made it mandatory for men to take at least two wives.

Is there a new law that says men in Eritrea have to marry at least two women or go to prison?

Collected via Email, January 2016

Rating

Origin

In mid-January 2016, several fake news articles started circulating on the internet, claiming that a new law required men in Eritrea to marry at least two women in order to bolster its flagging population:

Activists have posted a memo allegedly by the Government of Eritrea asking men to marry at least two wives due to acute shortage of men occasioned by casualties during the civil war with Ethiopia.

In the statement written in Arabic assures of government support to the polygamous marriages.

The activists translate it thus, “Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances in which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of Religious Affairs has decided on the following .”

The above-quoted story was taken from a web site called Crazy World, but similar stories appeared around the same time in several other fake Nigerian news web sites. Some publications also included an image purportedly showing the official document forcing Eritrean men to take multiple wives:

polygamy documentThe earliest iteration of the above-displayed image that we could uncover was posted to the Mereja forum on 22 January 2016. The only comment on that post was “that was a good joke.”

Eritrean government officials quickly debunked the rumor, telling the BBC that “even a madman in [the Eritrean capital] Asmara would know that this story was not true.”  Eritrea’s Information Minister said on Twitter that the spread of the story worldwide showed how eager the press was to embrace any negative coverage of the country:

One publication — Sahara Reporters — retracted the story, and then ran an update debunking it.

Snopes.com
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

Editorial
  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
Operations
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes