Harem (Turkish, from Arabic حرم ḥaram 'forbidden place; sacrosanct, sanctum', related to حريم ḥarīm - a sacred inviolable place; female members of the family' and حرام ḥarām, 'forbidden; sacred') refers to the sphere of women in what is obviously a polygynous household and their enclosed quarters which are forbidden to males.
The 'harem' does not refer to a sanctuary for the wives of a polygynous person. It is simply a resting quarters for women. Female seclusion in Islam is emphasized to the extent that any unlawful breaking into that privacy is strictly ḥarām "forbidden". A Muslim harem does not necessarily consist solely of women with whom the head of the household has sexual relations (wives and concubines), but also their young offspring, other female relatives, etc.
Regret that you didn't live at least in the 19th century, man! Look at the several images below to see what a harem could look like.
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