Netherlands Info Services (NIS) News Bulletin (GM 's-Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands), August 12, 2008
Although polygamy is banned in the Netherlands, the marriages of Muslims who have several wives are recognised by Dutch authorities.
Registrars in the major cities, in particular, record dozens of bigamous or polygamous marriages per year. These marriages are prohibited and an offence in the Netherlands. However, polygamous marriages that take place in countries where more than one wife is permitted, such as Morocco, are accepted, newspaper NRC Handelsblad reports.
If immigrants with several wives settle in the Netherlands, the local authorities register all the marriages. However, the Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS), where all marriages are registered nationally, removes these bigamous or polygamous marriages from its files, on the assumption that administrative errors have occurred. As a result, it is not known how common the phenomenon is in the Netherlands.
Amsterdam city council has informed the CBS that the marriages are not a mistake. “We will now investigate whether this can be regarded as a trend that was previously not recognised. If this is the case, it is out task to report this,” CBS researcher Jan Latten explained in NRC Handelsblad.
“At present, it is not included in our statistics,” Latten pointed out. “In the same way, we delete marriages involving fourteen-year-olds. A man with two wives just cannot exist by law.”
Spokesman T. Verhoeven of the Rotterdam city council disclosed that polygamous marriages are registered almost every week. “They are simply acknowledged. It is important for us to check that the documents are authentic and that the husband does not have Dutch nationality.” Otherwise the construction is illegal, Verhoeven explained.
In Amsterdam, local government employees must inform the Public Prosecutors’ Office (OM) if there is any suspicion of marriages of convenience or exploitation of women. But this has never happened, a spokeswoman revealed. In Rotterdam, too, the registration of bigamous or polygamous marriages is “practically never” refused, Verhoeven observed.