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“Loyalty,” Secrets, Separatism, and Child Sexual Abuse in Polygamy.

We sympathize with and support the woman who recently made sexual abuse allegations against her father, AUB polygamist leader, Lyn A. Thompson. However, we do not support her and her polygamist “husband’s” attempts to make political capital out of that abuse by blaming Utah’s anti-polygamy laws.

Linking sexual abuse accusations to a demand for Utah to stop resisting “the decision to strike down its anti-cohabitation laws “ appears manipulative in this context. It not only provides a convenient excuse for the non-reporting of abuse, it also serves these TV polygamists’ agenda to get laws changed in their favor. As this family is well aware, there are families living almost on their doorstep in AUB who have dared to report sexual abuse without having children “ripped away” by the state. We suggest that there are other compelling reasons for hiding the problem of sexual abuse within polygamy.

AUB and other polygamists do not hide away in separate communities because they are afraid of the law. Everyone knows where these communities are, including the police, and Utah has ignored these locations for decades. The true purpose of living in such places is not to evade the law, but to avoid being “contaminated” by the “evils” of outsiders. Legalizing or decriminalizing polygamy will not change this mindset.

Here are some other reasons why polygamist communities breed sexual abuse.

1. Loyalty to the “priesthood” is vital. Keeping secrets stops outsiders (and cult members) knowing about serious problems. Keeping quiet or even ”lying for the Lord” are acceptable ways of upholding the cult’s name. Dealing with problems in-house has always been popular, but victims in these cults have been unwilling to come forward as their leaders frequently ignore or disbelieve them.

2. Incest thrives in super-patriarchal societies where women are overburdened or depressed, and where girls are forced into the role of “mini mothers.” This happens when mothers cannot cope with their own feelings or an abundance of children and domestic work. Sibling incest may occur for similar reasons where boys and girls are forced into parenting roles. Polygamy provides the perfect conditions for incest as children raise other children. Other sexual abuse becomes likely where women with large families have little to no help from the father of their children, and find it hard to keep track of where their children are, whom they are with, and what they are doing.

3. The high incidence of intermarriage between a few families means that almost everyone is related to everyone else (family wreath syndrome). Normal boundaries are further blurred where men take “wives” who are sometimes the same age as these men’s biological children. Children are encouraged to call non-related adults, “uncle” or “aunt.” In polygamy, many children are exposed to large numbers of related and unrelated adults with free access to them. Research shows that most children know their sexual abusers. Because of this the odds of sexual abuse are higher in polygamy.

The truth is, in some sense the state of Utah IS responsible for the continuing sexual abuse of children in polygamist communities. Abject apathy by the state for decades has allowed polygamy to flourish, and with it the ever present likelihood of sexual abuse.

One Page Summary on “Why Not Polygamy.”

Here is a super-simplified, one page handout for our supporters, giving the main reasons for why embracing polygamy in any culture is inadvisable.

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Why Not Polygamy?

No practice that results in such ill effects should be a “right” under the US Constitution. “The harms flowing from polygamy are too evident to ignore and too serious to allow to occur under the guise of fundamental rights.” (Lawyer, Thomas Buck.)

  • Is the polygamy issue “just like gay marriage?” Gay marriage and polygamy are vastly different in effect. We do not see the same abuses in monogamous, same-sex relationships. Gay marriages potentially offer equal power sharing and a stable unit that is not constantly changing with the addition of new partners.
  • Consenting adults? Many adult women enter polygamy under psychological and emotional pressure, believing that their eternal souls are in danger of destruction if they refuse to participate. Women from fundamentalist, Muslim, and other backgrounds face cultural pressures to conform to this practice.
  • Legislating morality? The US has always “legislated morality” independent of any religious rationale. Murder, rape, theft, etc., are illegal because they are morally wrong—i.e., they cause significant harms to individuals and society. The same applies to polygamy. Its results extend far beyond the bedroom.
  • “Good” polygamy versus “bad” polygamy? Canada’s ruling on polygamy found that “The harms associated with the practice are endemic; they are inherent.” This means that the harms of polygamy are not just the result of abusive individuals. Social, physical, or emotional harms are inevitable where polygamy exists.
  • Equal rights. Polygamy violates a woman’s right to equality and emotional health. Polygamy is “anathema to women’s economic, social and emotional well-being.” (Dr. Shoshona Grossbard.)
  • Disrupted family stability. In polygamy, men compete for women while attempting to maintain multiple relationships. This forces women to compete for love, attention, and resources. It also restricts time available for parenting and diminishes the economic resources needed for children’s well being. Living in a family where the dynamics may change at any time as the father adds multiple partners, creates insecurity for children and family instability.
  • Women as a commodity. Polygamist males frequently seek to control the lives of females, who become commodities to be trafficked and traded between families and communities.
  • Increased sexual abuse. Holding out HELP (a Utah-based nonprofit) reports that over 90% of its clients leaving polygamy are victims of physical or sexual abuse (of which incest forms a part). Illegal underage sexual relations occur more frequently because competition for females drives down the age for “marriage.”
  • Polygamy, an antisocial and unsustainable practice. With a global 1:1 ratio of men to women, polygamy permits some men exclusive rights to multiple women, while denying other men a partner. One example of this anti social behavior is the “Lost Boys” phenomenon. In nations where the gender ratio has been disrupted, sexual violence follows. (See India, where selective abortion of females means some men cannot find a partner.)

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Sound Choices Press Release re: Decriminalizing Polygamy 1/15/14

 As state policy makers and the general public listen to the debates about polygamy and gay rights, the Sound Choices Coalition affirms that in spite of pro polygamy propaganda that would have people believe otherwise, these are two completely separate issues.

If it were only a matter of sexual privacy we would let matters rest, but polygamy is so much more, especially for the children involved.

The bottom line is that numerous studies in the US and abroad clearly show that polygamy is harmful to individuals and societies.

We support the United Nations’ view that polygamy undermines women’s rights to “equality with men.”

As human rights activists, we also agree with the UN that polygamy has such serious financial and emotional effects for women and children that “such marriages ought to be discouraged and prohibited.”

From our experience, we concur with Professor of Economics Shoshana Grossbard who echoes the UN in her findings that polygamy is “anathema to women’s economic, social and emotional well-being.”

Dr. Dena Hassouneh and Dr. Alia Hogben’s separate research in the US and Canada also identifies polygamy as a major cause of emotional distress and depression for the women involved.

Sound Choices Coalition supports Professors Henrich, Boyd, and Richerson’s findings that polygamy encourages crime and places children at greater risk of sexual and physical abuse (and even death) than children in monogamist families.

Henrich and his associates further note the huge age gaps often seen in polygamous unions. They identify how polygamist males spend time competing for females and attempting to maintain multiple relationships, resulting in little time for parenting their children.

Claiming “religious persecution” or “racism” as the reasons for anti polygamy laws is just a smokescreen to mask what Chief Justice Baumann of British Columbia calls the “inherent abuses” of polygamy.

We do agree with Judge Waddoups that selectively applying Utah’s “unlawful cohabitation” laws to polygamists is nonsensical. This only highlights the need for specific legislation limited solely to polygamy, which we request that Utah’s state legislature seriously consider.

Where we disagree with Waddoups is in his failure to confront the larger issues. It is simply impossible to reduce polygamy to just what goes on in the bedroom. [(page 76) …this individual liberty guarantee essentially draws a line around an individual’s home and family and prevents governmental interference with what happens inside, as long as it does not involve injury or coercion or some other form of harm to individuals or society.]

The experiences of the many teens, women, and even men who have left a broad range of polygamous groups and relationships are too easily written off by pro polygamy advocates as simply “not typical,” or worse, as the lies of “ex members with a grudge.” However, It is not so easy to ignore the studies mentioned in this press release, and the many others not listed here.

 Is polygamy “just like gay rights?” Is polygamy ”harmless?” Sound Choice Coalition thinks not—and neither do expert researchers.

Marion Munn / Kristyn Decker & Sound Choices Coalition

Former Polygamist (Kristyn Decker) Critical of Plural Marriages 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop the Decriminalization of Polygamy – Press Release

Stop the Decriminalization of Polygamy 

 

Contact: Kristyn Decker

Sound Choices Coalition

www.sound-choices.com

(801) 635-7556

 

“Patriarchal polygamy violates human rights by placing woman in religious bondage,” says Kristyn Decker, founder of the Sound Choices Coalition, which is a partnership of organizations and individuals uniting in an effort to end human rights violation due to polygamy, and other forms of patriarchal abuse.

As a former plural wife, Kristyn Decker states, “When you are brought up in fundamentalism you are blinded from truth and reality.”

Sound Choices Coalition is urging the State of Utah not to decriminalize polygamy in response to the lawsuit by the Kody Brown family.

The Brown family is clearly atypical of the overwhelming majority of polygamous families who do not receive a pay-check from a television network. Kody Brown and the women he lives with have tried to gain public support in their effort to decriminalize polygamy while separating themselves from polygamist leaders, such as Warren Jeffs.

In 2011, the polygamy issue went to the Canadian Supreme Court where many hoped to have the laws against polygamy overturned. After more than a year of extensive research the Canadian Supreme Court decided that polygamy should remain ILLEGAL. Chief Justice Bauman’s decision stated that “the harms associated with the practice are endemic; they are inherent,” and that there is “no such thing as so-called ‘good polygamy’.” (SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada, 2011 BCSC 1588, [1045, 1343]).

We hope Utah considers Canada’s recent polygamy research accumulated from Utah, from all over the world, and all previous cases involving polygamy.

If Utah decriminalizes polygamy then polygamous families throughout the country will find sanctuary here. Sound Choices Coalition hopes Utah will make a sound choice to protect women and children from the abuses within patriarch polygamy; such as unequal distribution of power within marriage, being forced to live polygamy under religious duress, arranged marriages, child-brides, young boys and men being forced out of families.

“No one wants to break up happy families or throw good fathers in prison,” says Christine Marie Katas, founder of VoicesforDignity.com.  Katas, who wrote the symbolic petition, said, “But there has to be a better, more creative legal solution because the evidence clearly shows that significantly more harm comes to polygamous women and children than monogamous women and children.”

These harms include higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse, higher rates of marital dissatisfaction, higher rates anxiety and depression, higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization, higher levels of somatization, phobia and other psychological problems. Polygamous women have more children, are more likely to die in childbirth and live shorter lives than their monogamous counterparts. Children in polygamous families face higher infant mortality, and physical and mental disabilities from incestuous marriages. Many children suffer more emotional, behavioral and physical problems, have lower educational achievement, and are at a higher risk of psychological and physical abuse than children in monogamous families.

“If this much damage is evident in a culture where there is little to no enforcement of the laws,” asks Christine Marie, “how will these women and children be any better off by removing the laws altogether?”

The members of the Sound Choices Coalition are asking the public to take a stand against the legalization of the subjugation of women in polygamy by signing the petition here: http://chn.ge/SB3Fny.

Sound Choices Coalition will meet in front of the Federal Courthouse at 3:00 on Thursday, January 17th at 350 S. Main St. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Please unite with us against patriarchal abuses.

*Remember – patriarchal polygamy is not a matter of consenting adults.

Click here to learn why.

Stand Against Legalizing the Subjugation of Women Through Polygamy

SIGN THE PETITION HERE

Introduction

On January 17, 2013, a federal judge in the state of Utah will hear motions on whether to dismiss or proceed with a lawsuit filed by Kody Brown and family, stars of the TLC show “Sister Wives,” challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s law banning polygamy.

The polygamous family has sued Utah and Utah County, the county they fled from, hoping to persuade the federal judge to pave the way for the decriminalization a way of life for tens of thousands of self-described Mormon fundamentalists, most of whom live in Utah.

Facts

The polygamous lifestyle presented by TLC’s “Sister Wives” TV show is entertainment, if not propaganda, and it does not reflect the reality of thousands of residents of residents of Utah and beyond who have suffered agonizing abuses, monumental losses, and even a violation of human rights due to the lack of enforcement of the state’s mandatory prohibition on polygamy.

After reviewing the world’s most comprehensive judicial treatment of the legal status of polygamy, Canadian Chief Justice Bauman declared in December 2011, that a prohibition on polygamy was strongly justified because it is “inevitably associated with serious harms” and “inherently harmful,” particularly to women and children, even in the absence of fraud, violence or abuse.

The Canadian Court ruling is here: http://stoppolygamy.com/court-decision-on-polygamy/

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has repeatedly taken a strong stance against polygamy, not just because of the “serious emotional and financial consequences” for a plural wife and her dependents, but also because it “contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men.”

SOURCE: http://www.endvawnow.org/en/articles/625-polygamous-marriages.html

In fact, in February 2012, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) even instructed Kenya to abolish polygamy within 2 years.

“Shape up. That’s the simple message, on the way we treat women, from the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women…

Polygamy is a deeply ingrained cultural practice. However, the committee wants Kenya to ‘bring all marriage laws under the prohibition of polygamy’.”

SOURCE: http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2011/06/religion/islam/un-tells-kenya-to-abolish-polygamy-within-2-years-and-change-other-laws

Kenya is a Third World Country!

What about Utah?

In May 2012, Utah politicians chose to ignore the extensive research and conclusions of the Canada court, disregard the admonition of the United Nations, go against the trend for nations around the globe to outlaw polygamy, and forget that United Nations considers polygamy a form of discrimination against women. Instead, the Utah County Attorney (where the Brown’s resided), under the direction of the Utah Attorney General, publicly embraced the felony of polygamy as defined in Utah legal code when they announced the effective decriminalization of polygamy as a matter of policy.

Utah Legal Code Section 76-7-101(1) declaring polygamy a felony is here:

http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE76/htm/76_07_010100.htm

The Utah County Attorney’s new policy which overrides Utah law is here:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/95483522/Sister-Wives-declaration-of-Utah-Co-Attorney-Jeffrey-Buhman

The exacting wording of the Utah County policy is:

“As Utah County Attorney, I have now adopted a formal office policy not to prosecute the practice of bigamy unless the bigamy occurs in conjunction with another crime…”

The policy, as officially adopted by the Utah County Attorney’s Office, states:

Prosecution of Bigamy Crimes:

“The Utah County Attorney’s Office will prosecute the crime of bigamy under the Section 76-7-101 (1) in two circumstances:

(1) When a victim is induced to marry through their partner’s fraud, misrepresentations or omissions; or

(2) When a person purports to marry or cohabits with another person in violation of Section 76-7-101 (1) and is also engaged in some type of abuse, violence or fraud…

This policy is intended, under the prosecutorial discretion exercised by this Office, to prevent the future prosecution in Utah County of bigamous marriages entered into for religious reasons.” [Case2:11-cv-00652-CW-BCW Document 47-1 5/31/12 Pg. 3]

By formally adopting a policy of apathy, Utah has not only taken women’s rights backwards, they have also flagrantly violated their own state constitution.

Utah State Constitution, Article 3 Section 1

“The following ordinance shall be irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State:

[Religious toleration — Polygamy forbidden.]

First: — Perfect toleration of religious sentiment is guaranteed. No inhabitant of this State shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship; but polygamous or plural marriages are forever prohibited.”

http://le.utah.gov/code/CONST/htm/00I03_000100.htm

PROBLEM: NO CONSENT ACHIEVED

The Utah Constitution which mandated the criminalization of polygamy, forever, as a condition of statehood, declared the ordinance prohibiting polygamy to be “irrevocable without the consent of the United States and the people of this State.”

When the Utah Attorney General and the Utah County Attorney announced the effective decriminalization of the felony of polygamy as a matter of policy, these politicians overstepped the constitutional requirement to receive the consent of the people of the state of Utah and the consent of the United States. No such consent was achieved, and those who sign this petition provide further evidence of that.

By disregarding the laws in the state constitution, the State of Utah has not only failed in its duty to protect its citizens, but has created an environment where the discrimination and victimization of women is rampant; human rights violations have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions; and predators are not only free to reign, but are protected from prosecution. This is unacceptable in the modern world.

To override the State Constitution and adopt a public policy to allow polygamy without the consent of the people of Utah and the United States, is a reckless violation of fiduciary duty as an elected official that is certain to result in more damage, suffering and financial losses of thousands of victims of polygamy.

CALL TO ACTION

We understand that the Utah County Attorney’s office has now provided a powerful response to the Brown’s lawsuit, and by so doing, has taken a stand against the legalization of polygamy. We applaud this and support this, but we also urge further action steps.

We, the citizens of Utah, the citizens of the United States, and the citizens of humanity, have signed this petition to show that we do not consent to the decriminalization of polygamy in Utah, and we beg, urge, and demand for the office of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah County to Attorney::

1. To immediately remedy its failure to abide by the Utah State Constitution and stop allowing the felony of polygamy to run rampant.

2. To stop misleading the public and misuing the power of its office by claiming it has “prosecutorial discretion” to announce a generalized refusal to enforce a legitimate law, when in fact “prosecutorial discretion” is designed to allow prosecutors to weigh the merits and make decisions regarding specific cases.

3. To immediately and officially reverse the “official” policy on the decriminalization of polygamy.

Voices for Dignity

Sound Choices Coalition

To:
Gov. Gary Herbert, UT
John Swallow, Utah Attorney General
Stand Against Legalizing the Subjugation of Women Through Polygamy

SIGN THE PETITION HERE