If you were looking for a husband would you marry someone who is already married? Asian Image has spoken to two British women who chose specifically to become a second wife.
And what are the legal implications for women who choose to become second wives?
Some women have become almost accustomed to men asking them to be their second wives. In some cases men go abroad and marry another woman and return to the UK.
Their present wives are none the wiser.
Other times men will have an arranged marriage and then years later decide they want to get married again. Without divorcing their first wives they will find another partner.
Problems obviously ensue when the first wife finds out about the despicable actions of their husbands.
(Names and identities have been been changed).
For divorcee Aisha this was never the case.
She said, "You’ll be surprised when you hear of how many Muslim men do in fact want second wives in the UK.
“Once that option becomes a real and tangible one, men are quite open to the idea. Most men consider it the more honourable way to avoid having an affair.
“I had asked religious friends to introduce me to men after my divorce. That’s when I seriously started considering becoming a second wife.
“Being divorced was not a hindrance to my getting remarried.
“Nor was having two children. I was also introduced to single men. But the option of being a second wife slowly became more alluring for me.
She says the men I spoke to who were looking for a second wife generally did not want more children. Rather, they wanted someone with whom they could have that escapism.
“One man told me that his first wife’s long periods were the reason he wanted to remarry. I refused him immediately. He was clearly just looking for a sex partner.
“My husband, Ishtiaq, continues to live in his house, but he has moved some stuff into my house too.
“I realise he still has a physical relationship with his first wife. Naturally that bothers me. But that comes with the territory and I have to accept that.
“My family and friends all had a big issue with how my husband would be able to afford two wives. But I am working and pay my own rent. Whatever my husband gives me is an added bonus.
“This marriage is not about me wanting financial security. It’s about wanting companionship. And it’s under my terms. It’s empowering really.”
She has even met her partner’s first wife.
“I have met Ishtiaq's wife several times. And she doesn’t try to disguise her contempt for me. I might as well be the mistress who lured her husband away from her.
“The truth is, he was looking for a second wife well before he met me.
“She won’t speak to me, but makes derogatory comments in my presence, about how men want younger women for their beauty and their body, and how those superficial things will never last.
“I remain quiet. I am sure I too would be very jealous if I were in her shoes. But I don’t feel guilty as I have not contravened any religious laws.
“He comes over and stays with me as often as he can. It may not be every day, but it suits me, as I enjoy having my space too.
“This way, he really looks forward to seeing me. It’s like we are dating.
“I like not having to cook everyday, or having to look immaculate for him everyday.
“Being the second wife gives me all the perks of marriage without the mundane responsibilities. I did that the first time round. This is so much better.”
Tahira was put off after an acrimonious divorce.
“I never wanted to have a civil marriage again. It got so messy. I only ever wanted to have a nikah the second time round.
“Dawud and I met at work at the same hospital where he is a doctor.
“However, my non-Muslim friends and colleagues will never understand nor accept polygamy. I have had to tell them that he is divorced.
“My husband’s first wife lives in Morocco. He spends months in the UK at a time and he was looking for a companion over here.
“He had an arranged marriage to his first wife when he was 20-years-old. They have four children together, but no real relationship. This is why his working in the UK worked for them both.
“As far as she is concerned, as long as he provides for her financially, she does not complain.
“I haven’t met her although she knows about me. I don’t need to meet her. Dawud does not need to bring me to Morocco. Our life is over here.”
But things can get quite strange when children enter the equation.
“His teenage son’s came over to visit recently. That was awkward. I was made to feel like the wicked step-mother.
“I also have grown up children, but they have their own lives, and are happy that I am getting on with mine.
“I suppose it is natural for his children to view me as ‘the other woman’. “What they don’t realise is that their parents marriage broke down years ago. And I know that he will never leave her or divorce her as he feels he owes it to her to look after her.
“After all, it wasn’t her choice to marry him either. It was an ill decision made by both sets of parents.
“Should one have to suffer all their life because of a decision made by one’s parents? Islam allows you dignified options.”