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Sororal polygyny is a term for a polygamous marriage in which two or more sisters share a husband.
Some Native American tribes and Muslim countries have a history of practicing sororal polygyny and it is still practiced today by some cultures, including some traditional African tribes.
Sororal polygyny is also known as sororate, a term coined by Scottish social anthropologist James George Frazer, who collected data about this marital arrangement and its practice around the world throughout history.
As with non-sororal polygyny, sororal polygyny is attractive to men who wish to satisfy a need for numerous sex partners, especially in societies where women are abstinent after having babies. Sororal polygyny is a more socially acceptable or moral way of satisfying this desire than having extra-marital affairs or soliciting sex workers. Sororal polygyny may be more common in cultures where the head of a large household is regarded with prestige.
Sororal polygyny is often thought to be a better polygamous marriage arrangement than non-sororal polygyny, or a marriage in which women who aren’t sisters share a husband, as sisters are believed to be more supportive of one another, less jealous, and less argumentative than non-siblings. These theories are supported by statistics suggesting that 86 percent of sororal co-wives live close to one another, compared to just 49 percent of non-sororal co-wives.
In the practice of sororal polygyny, it is most commonly the eldest sister who marries her husband first. She is joined in the marriage by her sisters as they become adults.
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