The Globe and Mail on Poly: The Ills Flow From What Exactly?
The editors at The Globe and Mail are apparently unable to distinguish one occurrence from all possibilities. In “Draw A Legal Line on Polygamy,” they argue:
Testimony from three “sister-wives” this week in British Columbia underscores the ills that flow from this practice: the exploitation and coercion of teenage girls, trafficking of child brides from the U.S. into Canada, exclusion of young men and abnormally high rates of teenage pregnancy.
And without a doubt, many of the issues coming out of a BC court hearing a case discussing Canada’s polygamy law are serious. Trafficking young girls across the Canada-US border for the purpose of marriage, coercion and exploitation in situations that hardly meet the standard of consent — all, if true, are urgent issues which need to be addressed legally. And they are: human trafficking, child coercion and underage sex are illegal.
But they do not necessarily flow from polygamy. They do, however, flow from a particular religious doctrine, which teaches the women involved that they need to behave a certain way, marry young, have many children and conform to and propagate these exploitive practices. Something tells me that the Globe editors aren’t about to call for legally proscribing all religion. Nor should they.
I discussed before how diverse the cultures of polygamy, polyamoury and ethical non-monogamy (and how all three are banned by Section 293 of the Criminal Code) are and have the potential to be. The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association goes further;
We have specifically identified 112 egalitarian, secular conjugal polyamorous families in Canada, including over 350 spouses. That was with a quick survey, mostly promoted on a few Internet mailing lists. Even that number is over three times the size of Bountiful…
Of these — and certainly of those people I’ve known in poly relationships — there is no requirement that any of the practices taking place in Bountiful be replicated. Just as relationships overall have a diverse range of how responsibilities are shared, how power and authority are exchanged among consenting participants, expectations and freedoms, agreements and obligations and ethical or unethical behaviour, so too are polyamoury, polygamy, ethical non-monogamy and polyandry open to a myriad of ways that adults are able to define their own relationships. It’s remarkably short-sighted and unimaginative to believe that Bountiful represents the whole… and to believe that legislation against polygamy and polyamoury will appropriately address the kinds of abuses being questioned at Bountiful.