A Cross Cultural Perspective of Polygyny As an institution, polygyny, the
social arrangement that permits a man to have more than one wife at the same
time, exists in all parts of the world. From our present knowledge, there are
very few primitive tribes in which a man is not allowed to enter into more than
one union. In fact, ethologists now believe that only one to two percent of all
species may be monogamous (Tucker). None of the simian species are
strictly monogamous; our closest relatives, the chimpanzees, practice a form
of group marriage. Among the 849 human societies examined by the
anthropologist Murdock (1957), 75% practiced polygyny. Many peoples

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