UPDATED:YabaLeftOnline has found that reports that the Eritrean government issued a decree requiring all men to marry two women, or face imprisonment, are completely FALSE.
This story was published by several African media organizations.
SaharaReporters, a reputable media organization, had conversations with experts and Eritrean government representatives on Wednesday, and now understands the reports which originated on social media, and later became extremely popular, is a false rumor. The rumor later found its way to news websites in Nigeria and across Africa.
On Wednesday morning, an Eritrean government representative attached to the Eritrean Mission at the United Nations in New York denied the rumor, and expressed frustration that hoax had gained the traction it had.
Also speaking an Eritrean expert Awet Weldemichael, an Assistant Professor at Queen’s University in Canada, stated that he believed the reports were fictitious and “started as a joke” online.
Mr. Weldemichael added that “I have not seen, read, or heard anything credible which would confirm the story.”
“I think it [such a decree] is in the realm of the improbable or impossible,” Mr. Weldemichael said.
According to the false reports, the primary justification for the mandatory marriage was intended to fill the population gap in the country following the Eritrean war for independence in 1991 and the Eritrean-Ethiopian war between 1998 and 2000.
Mr. Weldemichael, however, dismissed the notion that the Eritrean government would solve this supposed “population gap” with a decree forcing all Eritreans to engage in polygamy. In fact, the academic argued, the population of Eritrea has actually increased substantially since the war.
Mr. Weldemichael also stated “if you read [the reports] closely they have no basis in Eritrean tradition, which is almost half-Muslim and half-Christian” and that Eritreans are cognizant of the diverse “belief systems which do not always allow multiple wives.”