Letter of Support for our new Ally in Utah

(Kristyn Decker, author of Fifty Years in Polygamy  and others have formed a coalition called Sound Choices Coalition to counter-act the growing movement in Utah to decriminalize polygamy.  She has asked for letters from Canada.  Following is our letter of support and information about what is happening in Canada. NM)

Dear Newly-Formed Sound Choices Coalition (SCC):

It is an honor to be asked to submit a letter on behalf of Stop Polygamy in Canada Society (SPCS).  As the leader of this campaign in Canada, I have been in awe of the rapidity with which SCC has formed and the contributors to this movement.  We certainly have our struggles with the problem of polygamy being practiced with impunity in Canada.

On November 23, 2011, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Robert Bauman rendered his decision on the constitutionality of s. 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada.  S. 293 is our law banning the practice of polygamy in Canada.  He found our law to be CONSTITUTIONAL.  This means it will stand the test of a court case.  This decision was not appealed.

Our frustration in Canada with our campaign is that to this date no charges have been laid against the known polygamists in this country, the FLDS in Bountiful and the Muslims in Toronto.  Recently, one charge of polygamy was laid against an unidentified man near Ottawa who was found to operating two households with two wives, but we have heard no more of this case.

In describing the decision upholding the constitutionality of s. 293, Brian Samuels, pro bono attorney for Stop Polygamy in Canada Society (an Interested Person in the court), said, “These findings include substantial evidence of the harms caused by polygamy, as well as the finding that there was no religious motivation to the enactment of the criminal code provision that makes polygamy illegal.”

HARM was the most deciding factor in Justice Bauman’s 356-page decision.  To quote:

[6]  Based on the most comprehensive judicial record on the subject ever produced, I have concluded that the Attorneys General and their allied Interested Persons have demonstrated a very strong basis for a reasoned apprehension of harm to many in our society inherent in the practice of polygamy as I have defined it in these reasons.

[7]  I turn to some of the harms that are reasonably apprehended to arise.

[8]  Women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm. . .  (Note:  I have shortened the reasons for purposes of the length of this letter.  The entire document is at www.stoppolygamy.com ) 

[9]  Children in polygamous families face higher infant mortality. . .They tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement. . .Children are also at enhanced risk of psychological and physical abuse and neglect.

[10]  Early marriage for girls is common, frequently to significantly older men. . .Shortened inter-birth intervals pose a heightened risk of various problems for both mother and child.

[11]  The sex ratio imbalance inherent in polygamy means that young men are forced out of the polygamous communities to sustain the ability of senior men to accumulate more wives.  These young men and boys often receive limited education as a result and must navigate their way outside their communities with few life skills and social support.

[12]  Another significant harm to children is their exposure to, and potential internalization of, harmful gender stereotypes.

[13]  Polygamy has negative impacts on society flowing from the high fertility rates, large family size and poverty associated with the practice.  . .Polygamy also institutionalizes gender inequality. . .

[14]  Polygamy’s harm to society includes the critical fact that a great many of its individual harms are not specific to any particular religious, cultural or regional context.  They can be generalized and expected to occur wherever polygamy. . .

(Note:  Craig Jones, lead attorney for the Attorney General in the Polygamy Reference Trial, has written a book on the case:  A Cruel Arithmetic: Inside the Case Against Polygamy  2012: www.irwinlaw.com )

The practice of polygamy is a crime in both the United States and Canada.  In both countries, we democratically elect representatives to protect our rights and freedoms; yet, in both countries, polygamy is practiced with impunity.  There is a great need for all public officials dealing with all aspects of the rights of those caught in polygamy to be flooded with letters.  North American voices must speak out against this sordid practice.

Polygamy is a boil that festers on the soil of any country it infests causing great harm to those caught in its criminal web and to society-at-large draining resources that should be utilized for the greater good of humankind, not the greater harm of polygamy.

My congratulations to Kristyn Decker; and, to all who have joined together to form Sound Choices Coalition.  Please count us as your ally.



Nancy Mereska, President


Polygamy violates human rights




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