Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The shit hits the fan in Texas

As you may know, I have very strong feelings about polygamy in general and specifically about polygamy and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints). I am sure some of you are surprised that I didn’t post earlier about last week’s raids in Eldorado, Texas.

In general, I support a person's right to choose how they want to live their lives, as long as they aren't hurting anyone. I also feel very strongly that the government should butt-out of our personal lives and just let people be.

The reason I am so opposed to the way that sects like the FLDS practice polygamy is because of the widespread involvement of children.

The most recent news is that 416 children have been removed from an FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas and put into state custody because it was deemed that they faced an imminent threat of physical and/or sexual abuse. 140 women left with them by choice.

The FLDS children are not educated to a level where they have the option of leaving the compound. If they do, they have nowhere to go, no skills for “the outside world”, and are far behind in their education. Add to this the total culture shock of different styles of dress, manners and behavior and the thought of leaving a compound is daunting to say the least.

The young girls are married off to much older husbands at puberty and systematically raped. Whether they say no or not, they are being raped because they are not old enough to legally consent to sex. Many of the husbands are old enough to be their grandfathers and in extreme cases, their great-grandfathers. But do they have any other choice? I don’t think so.

Think of how hard it would be to leave not only your family, but literally everyone and everything you have ever known. To know that you will never be able to come home or have contact with them as long as they are still a part of the FLDS. How hard would it be to leave the only way of life you have ever known and enter the “outsider’s world” where no one looks like you and everything is different and unfamiliar. People who you love and trust have told you horrible things about the outside world and with no knowledge of your own; it would be so easy to believe them. I consider myself to be a strong and independent person and I am not sure that I would be able to leave under such circumstances.

Adolescent boys are either groomed to take on many wives or are excommunicated from the compounds so that they don’t compete for wives with the old men in positions of authority. If a husband acts out against the leadership, he is excommunicated, evicted from his home and his wives and children are reassigned to another man.

This has all been happening right under our noses for decades (since the Short Creek raid in 1953) and until last week the government has done nothing about it. I hope that this triggers raids in the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.

This is the first and probably the only time I will ever say "Way to go Texas!"

Recommended reading:

Under the Banner of Heaven, A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife
Irene Spencer

Escape (I haven't read this one yet, but I ordered it)
Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer

Texas Polygamy blog
A blog with posts and comments written by polygamists, non-polygamists and ex-polygamists. I found this blog to be fascinating. If you do visit the blog, please be respectful and do not leave rude or degrading comments.

The Hope Organization
The HOPE Organization is a non-profit group dedicated to assisting survivors of abuse within polygamous relationships on their courageous journey to personal freedom.

My previous posts can be found here.


Raggedy Angst said...

Awesome post. And precisely why we need to ensure that EVERY child is educated. What I don't understand is why they allowed so many men to leave the compound; shouldn't a lot of them be under arrest?

NuclearToast said...

This post was a buzzkill. Probably would not read again.

Seriously, though, people need to wake up about these stupid sects based on outdated ideas of a paternal societal structure. Come on!

Bri said...

This is amazing. Check out this article about it today:

Underage sex at the temple? Wow..

CJ said...

I've been watching shows on CNN about this topic. I can't beleive they aren't prosecuting more people for raping the children and women. I wonder how many other compounds are out there...

Ash said...

CJ - Unfortunately, this is more widespread that most people think. The FLDS compound that spans Colorado City (AZ) and Hildale (UT) (called the twin towns, formerly known as Short Creek) has an estimated 8 -10 thousand residents. The FLDS also has large compounds in Canada and Mexico and Nevada.

Also interesting (and sad) is the genetic problems that run rampant in communities like these. Excerpt from Wikipedia:
The Colorado City/Hildale, Utah area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe mental retardation. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessop and John Yates Barlow. At least half of the double community's roughly eight-thousand inhabitants are descended from one or both men.

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