POLYGAMY’S IMPACT AROUND THE WORLD
POLYGAMY’S IMPACT ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN’S LIVES
Muslims around the world and members of the FLDS ( fundamentalist Mormons) practice polygamy both legally and illegally. The first part of this essay focuses on polygamy and gender inequality.
POLYGAMY’S IMPACT ON GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE WORLD
Through out history there has been male domination in all societies except in a few matriarchal societies. Men argue that women are inferior to men. A women does not have the strength of the male, nor the competence, therefore she is inferior and not considered equal to a man. Therefore it is in a woman’s interest to allow a man, whether it is her father, husband, or brother, to determine her future.
Women face discrimination in many forms. In the workplace they receive less pay than a man in the same position. Positions and promotions are not as favorable for women. In many countries around the world the laws have been formed to suppress women’s rights. In some countries women are not able to seek divorce for physical abuse, unless there is an eyewitness that can testify on her behalf.
In addition to this, women and teenage girls are discriminated against because of their age, looks, weight, height, and whether they are dressed appropriately and their level of education.
POLYGAMY’S IMPACT ON GENDER INEQUALITY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
In the Islamic world, discrimination is often justified by old Islamic traditions. Children often go to the male after a divorce and in some countries if a native woman marries a foreigner the child does not have the right of being a citizen of the woman’s country.
A study in Nigeria identified 5 reasons for men to have more than one wife, because having more than one wife allows the husband to: 1- have the many children the male desires; 2- it would heighten his prestige and boost his ego among his peers; 3- enhance the males status in the community; 4- ensure a sufficient number of laborers for farm work, household work, etc; 5- satisfy the males sexual urges.
Another reason is to increase the household income. These are the main reasons in addition to other reasons.
POLYGAMY’S IMPACT NEGATIVELY ON CHILDREN AND WOMEN IN WORLD OF POLYGAMY
Because there are many different Muslim cultures inside and outside of the USA with differing problems created by living in polygamy I have chosen to list the major problems that are common in all groups as well as also listing problems created in the FLDS group and other US groups practicing polygamy.
One of the biggest negatives for a boy or any child, is if the father has two or more wives and more than 10 children it is difficult to remember the child’s name and the father will usually say, “who is your mother?” There is not much of a relationship between the fathers and their children. It is really important for the boys to have a role model. This is true with the Muslims and the FLDS. Even the relationships with the mothers is strained and fleeting because of the number of children and additional wives in the home. There is also competition between the children for the attention from the father and mother. The wives also compete for attention from the husband.
For girls, if there is a divorce the children usually go with the father, which means they loose the relationship with the natural mother and usually end up being raised by a step mother who cares little for the child. The child, if a stepchild, could become a bride in waiting for the stepfather. In the FLDS community the children usually remain with the parent that stays in the community. If a woman leaves the community with a child every effort will be made to find the child and to return the child to the polygamous community.
The children receive little schooling and are used as laborers in the field and home usually without any pay. They are also given little time to socialize with each other and the boys and girls are usually kept apart in the FLDS community. In the FLDS community children are indoctrinated into the faith and are usually kept from learning anything about the evil outside world.
Polygamy’s impact on the FLDS critics and have been investigated for child abuse because their leader, Warren Jeffs, has been quoted as saying, “if a girl wants to play with a doll give her a baby and if a boy wants to ride a bicycle give him a shovel.” Girls as young as 12 have been forced to marry an older man, sometimes even a stepfather. Girls generally are not given a choice as to when they will marry or to whom.
Polygamy’s impact on Child labor and laws are broken continually by the FLDS and robbing the children of their childhood. The majority of the children being victimized are hidden from view and beyond the reach of law enforcement. Many off the children are denied basic health care, education, adequate nutrition, and protection and security. Children who work full time and do not attend schools are prevented from developing necessary cognitive skills. Young children who are forced to work for free instead of receiving an education will continue working like slaves for the rest of their lives, essentially brainwashed without opportunity to improve their lives. Not only is child labor problematic because it robs a child of their education, but working can impact a child’s social development because they spend more time working than engaging with peers in social play, learning how to interact properly.
IMPACT OF POLYGAMY ON WOMEN IN FLDS COMMUNITY
In addition, effects on living in polygamy in the FLDS community for women involve child bearing. At present there is a seed bearer ritual in the FLDS group which does not allow a man to have sex with any of his wives. A seed bearer is an elect man of worthy bloodline chosen by the Priesthood to impregnate the FLDS women. Under this new doctrine the men are no longer permitted to have children with their multiple wives. That privilege belongs to the seed bearer. While the seed bearer does his duty the husband is required to sit in the room holding his wife’s hand while the seed bearer, or couple of seed bearers rape his wife. The seed bearer does wear a hood.
Also in a disciplinary action, a man can be banned from the church and his wives and children can be reassigned to another man. At the present time the leader of the FLDS church is serving a life sentence in prison for marrying and giving in marriage, 12 year old girls.
If you would like to know more about the negative effects of polygamy on women and children, I would suggest looking at the article on the internet where much of the above information was gathered. ‘The Negative Impact of Polygamy on Women and Children in Mormon and Islamic Cultures.’ Natali Exposito. There is much more information on this subject in the article, particularly with the Muslim Culture. Click here
If you would like to know more about the FLDS, their beliefs, child abuse and the Practice of Polygamy in the USA, click here to read the authors award winning Pulitzer prize nominated book, ‘Power of Polygamy’, by Dr. Carole A. Western.