Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 19, 2009
Polygamy harms the women and children involved, say opponents
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
OTTAWA — Polygamy distorts God’s plan for human love, attacks the dignity of women and threatens children’s rights says the director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).
“Marriage is meant to be an indissoluble communion of life and love between one man and one woman,” said COLF director Michèle Boulva. “Their communion of love, their conjugal love should bring them to love each other as God loves.”
CANNOT BE SHARED
“It should be free, total, faithful and fruitful,” she said. “It should bring them to a self-giving that cannot be shared with anybody else.”
Boulva noted that when that love is shared with another besides the spouse, both are “impoverished. Polygamy is an injustice towards women and an attack against their dignity,” she said, adding polyandry — a woman with more than one husband — would be an attack on the dignity of men.
Boulva also raised concerns about the threat polygamy poses to children’s right to be raised by their biological mother and father.
“How can a man with 50 or 100 children give them the individual attention they need to mature in a holistic way?” she asked. “We know the aftermath of divorce on children and the impact on their lives of the absence of a father.
“Why would we establish a new norm that in itself is incompatible with the best interests of children?”
Boulva said legalizing polygamy would move Canadian society even further from the “natural societal norm” of marriage that is in the best interests of children, women and men.
Douglas Farrow, co-editor of Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the Dangers of Canada’s New Social Experiment, also considers polygamy bad for children for the same reasons.
“The question arises when the father’s loyalty is so far divided among wives and their children that this so distances the children from the father’s direct attention that it undermines the purpose of marriage as a social institution, which is to keep fathers responsible to their children,” he said.
RIGHTS OF CHILDREN
Ethicist Margaret Somerville said the decision to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships was based on arguments only concerned with adult preferences and choices, not the rights of children.
Somerville pointed out that arguments that polygamy is harmful or exploitive of women are still concerned with what is good and bad for adults. “The stronger argument is that it’s not good for children.”
Somerville said some societies have allowed polygamy when there has been a shortage of men, perhaps if many have been lost to war.