The Province - British Columbia, Canada March 7, 2011
Polygamy 'consumes its young,' says Crown in landmark trial
By Keith Fraser, The Province
A lawyer for the B.C. government says polygamy “consumes its young” and warns that there will be many more victims if the practice of multiple marriages is decriminalized in Canada.
The comments by Craig Jones, lead counsel for the B.C. attorney-general’s ministry, are contained in a 163-page written submission filed in B.C. Supreme Court.
Last month B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman heard the final witnesses in the trial to determine whether Canada’s law is constitutional.
The parties in the case are now in the process of exchanging written submissions to be followed by final oral arguments March 28.
In his submissions, Jones says that the quality of the evidence heard at trial was “extraordinary,” with some of the leading experts testifying in addition to people who have and are still living in polygamous communities in Canada and the United States.
He said the evidence “inexorably” leads to two conclusions — that polygamy has “significant risk” to women and children and significant risks to society at large.
“This is what we know about polgyamy, both in theory and practice: a polgyamous society consumes its young,” he said.
“It arms itself with instruments of abuse, and shields itself behind institutions of secrecy, insularity and control. It depresses every known indicator of women’s equality.”
Jones added that polgyamy is “anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, anti-liberal and anthithetical to the proper functioning of any modern, rights-based society.”
The government lawyer noted that the harms included child brides being smuggled across the border to serve as “compliant wives to middle-aged men they have never met,” and boys expelled or sent to work camps without education.
“These victims were inevitable. And there will be many more if the challengers succeed in making Canada the first western nation to decriminalize polygamy.”
There are two questions before the court — whether the law is constitutional and what are the necessary elements of the offence.
Jones said the law was consistent with the Charter.
Regarding the elements of the offence, he said that the law does not require proof that it involves a minor or that it occurred in a context of dependence, exploitation, abuse of authority, a gross imbalance of power or undue influence.
Those elements may be aggravating factors, but a person who knowingly enters into a criminally polygamous relationship or who assists in “certain processes” purporting to sanction such a relationship, is guilty of the offence, he said.
Jones concluded by noting that for more than 30 years, many academics and lawyers have said, without the benefit of much evidence, that banning polygamy was an unjustifiable infringement of the liberties of citizens.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that the world is watching this case. It is by far the most thorough and profound exploration of polgyamy and its harms in any courtroom, ever.
“If the prohibtion against polygamy cannot be supported today, on this record, then it could never be supported.”
Written submissions from the parties who want to decriminalize polygamy are expected to be filed March 17.
The judge was asked to take the constitutional reference case after polgyamy charges against two Mormon fundamentalist leaders in Bountiful were stayed in 2009.
Apocalypticism is a simplistic but dangerous world view spreading rapidly like a toxic virus
Polygamy prohibition is a reasonable limit on religious freedom to protect the equality rights of women and children
Two more plural wives testify in Canadian polygamy case, see no problem with forced marriage or trafficking child brides
Testimony of first FLDS witness in Canadian polygamy case reveals women in denial that their children are being abused
First anonymous FLDS witness in Canadian polygamy case paints cosy picture of plural marriage, seems oblivious to abuses
Affidavit in Canadian polygamy case reveals shocking statistics on child trafficking, child brides and teen mothers in Bountiful
Economics professor considers financial aspects of polygamy that create inequality
Two Mormon fundamentalist women from Utah tell Canadian court positive accounts of polygamy, no hint of abuse
Brother of FLDS bishop describes intellectual abuse, child labour, spiritual abuse and loveless religion in Canadian polygamy case
No freedom from religion for women and children in Mormon polygamist towns where men claim religious freedom to abuse
Mormon polygamist survivor tells court babies smothered to keep quiet, emotional and spiritual abuse worse than sex abuse
Video testimony by Mormon fundamentalist in Canadian court says polygamy provides happy life and harms no one
Survivor tells Canadian court extreme abuses including water torture of babies common in Mormon polygamist communities
FLDS bishop of Bountiful will not testify in Canadian polygamy case so his affidavit will not be read into record
Legal expert tells Canadian court polygamy prohibitions and monogamy tradition pre-date Christianity
The issue of women's rights in the Canadian constitutional review of the polygamy law
Expert in polygamy case says society should assume all members of sects have free choice, but what about children?
B.C. government expert in polygamy case sets out long list of social harms, societies that abandon polygamy do better
Court views video affidavits from Mormon fundamentalist survivors detailing pedophilia, incest, child trafficking and forced marriage
Polygamy expert tells court in constitutional case that it reduces women's freedom and equality and leads to forced marriage
Affidavits from survivors and psychologist's testimony in constitutional case show abusive nature of polygamous lifestyle
Expert witness in constitutional case on polygamy claims Bountiful women freely choose their own religious oppression
Judge allows controversial expert witness to testify in Canadian polygamy case, no decision yet on publication of video affidavits
Pro-polygamy intervenor groups make opening statements as first week of Canadian constitutional case ends
FLDS lawyer in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy claims members freely consent to plural marriage, abuse survivors disagree
Lawyer appointed to argue for striking down Canada's anti-polygamy law in constitutional case makes opening arguments
Canadian constitutional case on polygamy begins with BC government's opening statement
Unique Canadian constitutional case on polygamy set to begin November 22, 2010
Timeline of events leading up to Canadian constitutional case on polygamy which is set to begin
Survivor of abuse by Mormon polygamists documents accounts of sex crimes in the FLDS and other fundamentalist groups
Mormon fundamentalist leader asks court to exclude evidence against him in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy
Fundamentalist Mormon spokeswoman says polygamy doesn't hurt anyone
Mormon fundamentalist claims of religious persecution in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy not supported by the facts
Polygamist leader says BC attorney general guilty of religious persecution
Polygamist leader calls charges religious persecution
More persecution than prosecution
Second Mormon polygamist found guilty of child sex assault, jury doesn't buy defense claim of religious persecution
Claims of persecution ridiculous in societies where Christians have special privileges to indoctrinate children
More pro-polygamy affidavits by Mormon fundamentalists filed in Canadian constitutional case set to begin in November
Judge will allow anonymous testimony from Mormon polygamists in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy
Mormon polygamists seek immunity from future prosecution before giving evidence in Canadian constitutional case
Canadian constitutional case on polygamy triggered by Mormon fundamentalists, but will also examine Muslim communities
Utah law professor uses Mormon polygamists as example of how religious extremism leads to deliberate child abuse
Polygyny and Canada’s Obligations under International Human Rights Law (pdf)
Research paper submitted to B.C. court in constitutional case documents harms associated with polygamy
Man from Bountiful says girls in Mormon polygamist communities "treated like poison snakes", taught to obey men and have many children
Bountiful evidence that polygamy harms women and children - constitutional case likely to reach Canadian Supreme Court
Review of the positions 12 intervener groups are expected to take in upcoming Canadian constitutional case on polygamy
Some religious practices, such as polygamy, are inherently harmful and should not be tolerated in modern society
Women's adovcates: polygamy is an “oppressive institution” that abuses and enslaves women and children
Prosecuting Polygamy in El Dorado by Marci Hamilton
Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearings on Polygamy Crimes: What Needs to Be Done at the Federal Level to Protect Children from Abuse and Neglect
Senate hearing: "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response."
Texas Will Attempt to Show That Polygamist Culture Itself Harms Children
FLDS defendants complain their religious freedom violated, while denying religious freedom to their children
Children in Bountiful have religious rights too, but are denied them by parents claiming religious freedom
Some Canadian children are protected from religion-related abuse, while others are not
Polygamy is not freedom
Israeli politicians and women's advocates call for immediate change to polygamy law to protect rights of women and children
New study on polygamy in Malaysia finds evidence of harm to everyone involved
Indonesian Women's Association divided on whether polygamy, which is legal in Indonesia, is harmful to women and children