Canadian court hears of the misery of polygamy

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

A very interesting and important court case is ongoing in Canada at the moment, after the north American country began hearings to test the anti-polygamy law.

In a case to determine whether such a ban is constitutional, a professor testified yesterday that the supply-and-demand principles of polygamy leave women worse off. Shoshana Grossbard said that allowing men to have multiple wives leads to a reduced supply of women.

She said: “In the cultures and societies worldwide that have embraced it, polygamy is associated with undesirable economic, societal, physical, psychological and emotional factors related especially to women’s well-being.” Her evidence was firmly concluding that polygamy is a firmly bad aspect of society, associated with forced marriages, teenage brides, and poor access to education to reduce the ability of women to choose who they marry.

If this law is overturned, Canada will become the sole Western country to allow polygamy.

Polygamy can surely not be a woman’s first choice. No wife is likely to relish the idea of sharing a partner, being compared with other “wives” who might consider themselves inferior or superior. Professor Grossbard agreed, saying that polygamy was associated with psychological or health problems. In the case of Canada, this ruling is focussing on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) a breakaway of the Mormon church. The church has said that the constituional charter allows them to practise plural marriages, and civil liberty lawyers have warned that the ruling is again the right of consenting adults to form their families in the ways they want.

It’s hard to be in favour of polygamy when it so firmly takes power from the women involved. The phrase “consenting adults” is the key of the matter, and it’s difficult to know how you could gauge the level of consent in a potentially unequal relationship. The man has complete control to choose his partners without having to take into account the wishes of the existing wives. In cases like this perhaps a constitutional infringement is worthwhile if it helps to prevent institutional suffering and misery for Canadian women.

Click here for some of the video testimonials presented in court, so you can hear the testimonials of those who really know what it is like to live in a polygmous relationship.

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