Durban - In Eritrea, an African country southeast of Sudan, the government has passed legislation that orders men to take two wives or face life imprisonment. A scanned copy of the legislation emerged on social media on Thursday, 21 January 2016.

The legislation, written in Arabic, further states that women who attempt to prevent their husbands from taking a second wife will also face life imprisonment.

The law comes in the wake of Eritrea's civil war with Ethiopia in which vast casualties were encountered resulting in a shortage of Eritrean men.

According to, the legislation translated from Arabic to English is as follows:

“Based on the law of God in polygamy, and given the circumstances which the country is experiencing in terms of men shortage, the Eritrean department of Religious Affairs has decided on the following:

“First that every man shall marry at least two women and the man who refuses to do so shall be subjected to life imprisonment with hard labour.

“The woman who tries to prevent her husband from marrying another wife shall be punished to life imprisonment."

The legislation was added to part of the 'Grand Mufti' which is the highest religious and legislative law of Eritrea.