Thursday, August 18, 2011

Consensual Polygamy is Not Abuse

Referring to Warren Jeffs, Lorne Gunter writes about not liking the FLDS, how things are in Bountiful, nor how the RCMP has responded to allegations of abuses.

But then again, dawdling has long characterized the way B.C. childwelfare officials and Mounties have treated allegations against Bountiful's domineering leaders. Fearful of upsetting the leaders' Charter right to religious freedom, police and bureaucrats have been slow to the point of inert when looking into complaints that children and women have been physically and psychologically abused there.

It would be easier for the authorities to investigate and prosecute abuse if marriages between adults were not criminalized. If adults were free to marry any consenting adults with government sanction and protection instead of prosecution, witnesses would be more forthcoming.

I can see where the courts might accept the argument that polygamy in and of itself is not abusive - that consenting adults could enter into such weird and creepy relationships of their own free-will.

“Weird and creepy?” I wonder what Gunter’s relationships and personal life are like, and if there are people who would think any aspect is weird and creepy? At least Gunter can see that courts might understand polygamy isn’t inherently abusive.

That commentary drew a letter from Nancy Mereska, president of Stop Polygamy in Canada. I can see Stop Domestic Violence or Stop Child Abuse, but Stop Polygamy? Why does Mereska care so much what relationships other consenting adults have? And does she really have it out for polygamy (would she be against, say, a woman marrying two women), or just polygyny? Anyway, in the letter she writes…

The international convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women discusses polygamy and says that parties should prohibit it because of its harm to women and children.

Isn’t is discrimination against women to tell them they can’t marry the person(s) they want?

The international Convention on the Rights of the Child says a child has a right to know its parents. In polygamy the father is absent.

With full marriage equality, polygamy could be a matter of law; polygamy means marriage. That’s hardly being absent. Notice she does not mention that it is perfectly legal for men to have children with multiple women, as long as he is only married to one at a time, if at all.

In polygamy, women's and children's rights are diminished measurably.

How so? She doesn’t say. She simply asserts it. And diminished compared to what? Certainly not women and children who have been abandoned by deadbeats.

It really isn’t complicated. An adult should be free to share love, sex, residence, and marriage with any consenting adults. Domestic violence and child abuse should be prosecuted. What is the problem with taking an approach like that?
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