6/01/2006

Polygamy

h/t: Darcey

At some point, and it's not clear to me when, under the former Liberal government polygamy was recognized for the purposes of spousal support and inheritance payments. How that got by without anyone hearing about it until now is beyond me.
The CBC takes a fairly in-depth look at the polygamous community in Bountiful, British Columbia. I can't believe I am recommending reading something from the CBC, but I think everyone should take the time to read through it. There are a few points worth noting.
2003: ... Utah legislature approves tougher penalties for men who take young girls as their plural wives. Child bigamy... is punishable by 1 to 15 years in prison... Hildale police officer Rodney Holm, who was wed... to his wife's sister, is convicted of one count of bigamy and two counts of unlawful sex with a minor. He is sentenced to one year in jail.
One year only?
That's a slap on the wrist!!
What's worse is that this man is a police officer. He is supposed to enforce the law, not break it. Does anyone know if he was kicked off the police force? The article does not say.
APRIL 16, 2005: Winston Blackmore holds a polygamy summit in Creston, British Columbia and invites Attorneys General from Idaho and British Columbia. They don't attend... Fifteen of Winston's plural wives attend a conference in Winnipeg that focuses on sexual abuse in closed communities. The wives make national news by urging the federal government to raise the age of sexual consent to 16 from 14.
Time to ask an obvious rhetorical question.
If polygamous marriage is so wonderful for these wives (as its advocates claim) why do these wives want the age of consent raised? Could it be because polygamous marriages often have a high degree of abuse, especially against young girls, associated with them?
JUNE 16, 2005: An Arizona grand jury indicts Warren Jeffs on two counts of felony child sex abuse for his role in planning and performing the marriage of a 16-year-old girl to a man that was already married.... Jeffs also faces 2 civil suits... one from young men expelled from the church and another from a nephew who has accused him of sexual abuse.... One suit, launched last July by Brent Jeffs, alleges that Warren Jeffs, his uncle, began molesting him when he was five.
So, this guy is not just a deviant when it comes to women and girls. No, he molests boys too. Is there anyone out there who still thinks polygamy is a good thing? Let me try to change your mind.
Warren Jeffs is rumored to have at least 50 wives, possibly more. Winston Blackmore has 26 wives and at least 80 children. They and their fellow freak-shows masquerading as Christians (and Mormons, especially this type, are nothing close to Christians) believe that if a man wants to find salvation, enter the celestial kingdom of God and possibly become a God himself, he needs at least three wives. Interesting that the goal for these people is to become a God.
Serpent, anyone?
The two women interviewed in this piece have both fled their communities and are now quite outspoken against polygamous unions. One of these women is Jane Blackmore, Winston's first wife. The other woman, Debbie Palmer, was forced to marry a 57 year old man when she was only 15. Good for them, says I!

I would like to reiterate the Liberal Parties stated position on polygamy, just in case you had any doubts.
The Federal government commissioned the study into polygamy weeks before it introduced same-sex legislation in June 2005. There was concern that legalized homosexual marriage could lead to constitutional challenges from minority groups who claim polygamy as a religious right. The polygamy debate hit the news when Conservative leader Stephen Harper warned that same sex marriage could make polygamy legal in Canada. Former PM Paul Martin said that polygamy would never be legal in Canada. Former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler denied there was any link between the two issues. "We don't see any connection - I repeat, any connection - between the issue of polygamy and the issue of same sex marriage."
Meanwhile, these guys had already partially legalized it.
It is an alarming statement on the moral status of our country when a law like this can slip through and no one knows of it until well after the fact. This law is even more alarming in light of the post I made yesterday regarding pedophilia. There is simply no excuse for allowing this sort of sexual deviance and violence against those who have no means to defend themselves. The government should working hard to protect the weak and the innocent. They should not be making excuses for predators. We need action and we need it now. There should be tough sentences for these men and some sort of program to help the women in these communities escape.

3 comments:

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

It seems to me, that if our intent in banning polygamy is to protect spouses (overwhelmingly "wives" of course) from abuse and mistreatment, then it is hypocritical to allow a husband with multiple "wives" to abandon any financial obligation or other responsibility to one of those women. Letting one of these men say that they can't be obliged to pay spousal support to a woman they "married" and then abandoned, because they were never really married, seems to me to let that man off the hook. No ban ever eliminates the thing that has been banned entirely, and I think it is incumbent upon us to protect women (and their children) who entered into what they viewed as a marriage (even though it wasn't, and it was illegal) and were then abandoned by their "husbands" (or fathers).

I personally don't see a problem with the multiple marriages being entirely null and void, with the sole exception that the men who lured women into these arrangements still bare a financial responsibility to those women and their children equivalent to the responsibility of a real marriage, even though the marriages weren't legal. These men shouldn't be allowed to "marry" women, and then freely toss them aside becasue of the fact that the law doesn't recognize the marriage. To me, that would be adding an injustice on top of an injustice. We would be allowing polygamists to hide behind the illegality of their marriages to avoid responsibilities to women (and children) that I think they clearly have a responsibility to, despite the fact that the marriage itself was invalid.

Ruth said...

I personally don't see a problem with the multiple marriages being entirely null and void, with the sole exception that the men who lured women into these arrangements still bare a financial responsibility to those women and their children equivalent to the responsibility of a real marriage, even though the marriages weren't legal. These men shouldn't be allowed to "marry" women, and then freely toss them aside becasue of the fact that the law doesn't recognize the marriage. To me, that would be adding an injustice on top of an injustice.

I agree that if these men hide behind the illegality of their marriages in order to not support any divorcees, then injustice is compounded. I also agree that it is important for us to protect the women and children of these "marriages."
However, after giving your idea much thought, I am not sure if your solution is the correct or most effective one. Consider that a divorce must be filed with the government, for tax purposes if nothing else. It seems likely that if a man with multiple wives were to divorce one of them, then someone somewhere would have to find out that he does in fact have more than one wife. In this case, could there not be a way to arrest the guilty man? If the woman is merely thrown out of the house and not formally divorced, then there should be some other mechanism in place to catch her if you will. She could, in theory, rat out her husband. However, given that in abuse cases, women sometimes try to stay with their abusers, that the victim would rat out her husband is probably not the best assumption to make.
Should a man try and divorce one of his wives, it might be better to force the breakup of the group marriage. The guilty man should then be force to pay alimony to all of his wives. Given that he should be punished and that likely with jail time, the government could even forcibly divide all of his assets between his wives. That is only one possible solution by the way. I am sure there are others.

Sara said...

hey we just had a child rapist get a lighter sentence because it wasn't a violent crime!

what do we expect... I wonder when the locust and headless horseman will show up, and I'm not even freaking religious.

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