Polygamy is forbidden in Europe, but that doesn’t stop immigrants from countries such as Mali to go ahead with it.
Nienke Muurling, anthropologist from the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, has been conducting research in Mali and France to study the phenomenon. There are several ways this is done. For one, such marriages are sanctioned by the imams. And so, a man can get married through the civil courts for his first marriage, and then marry several other women at the local mosque. There are other ways to circumnavigate French restrictions. Married men come to France declaring themselves single and then marry another women, for example.
France does not grant family reunification for polygamy families, but in practice it does not stop such things from happening. It’s not unusual for co-wives to share ID cards and residence permits.
In Mali choosing your own partner and monogamy are on the rise, but in France there are many arranged marriages among the Mali immigrants. However, according to Muurling, women are never happy in such a marriage, having to share a husband.
Source: Trouw (Dutch)