The Harms of Polygamy

 1.  Choice? 

Polygamous culture who do not ‘agree’ to live the principle believe that their disobedience will cause severe consequences to their eternal welfare. 

2.  Husbands Control Their Destinies

Women believe their husbands have control of their eternal destinies. 

3.  Women Covenant to Obey

Women covenant to obey (or hearken unto) their husbands – as he obeys God “in righteousness,” and that righteousness is subject to interpretation by the males in the community.

4.  Imbalance of Power

Gender inequality and imbalance of power between the man and his plural wives.

5.  Women Victim of Undue Influence

Patriarchal polygamists believe that the prophet or priesthood leader the women marry “presides over them” and he is therefore entitled to receive revelation from God concerning the women, empowering the male leaders with an ecclesiastical and fiduciary status beyond that of standard ordained clergy.

6. Women Are Broken into Submissiveness

Women are required to repent of their sins, and that the repentance process can be publicly humiliating, psychology devastating and even physically violent if necessary to achieve the desired humility and obedience. “Emotional and physical abuse wears you down over time. It erodes your confidence, independence, sense of efficacy and good judgment. Successful abusers use brainwashing tactics to disassemble your personality and extinguish your natural responses to abuse. In other words, you become numb and submissive instead of fleeing or fighting back in the face of her abuse.”

7.  Women Are Manipulated

Women are manipulated through a series of rewards and punishments in an authoritarian structure that permits no feedback, inhibits the woman’s natural personality and behavior, makes her feel powerless and teaches her to deny her natural feelings.

8. Women Falsely Portray Outward Happiness

Women, we must forget that women are pressured to suffer in silence while portraying an outward happiness.

9. Women Must Consecrate Their Whole Lives

“Righteous” women must covenant to “live the law of consecration” or consent to be enslaved– giving their time, talent, possessions, resources to the building of the kingdom on this earth.

10.  Unhealthy Foundation – Incest and abuse

Incest and abuse is rampant, and women immersed in this culture often have a damaged psychological foundation and sense of self.

11. Leaders Control Marriages

Marriages are frequently arranged by the leaders, and young women are prohibited from dating and discouraged from marrying for love.

12. Women Are Disempowered

Patriarchal, anti-democratic nature of polygamous communities that disempower women, individually and collectively, from being educated and making informed choices about their lives.

13. Biblical Manipulation

Polygamists are skilled at manipulating Biblical doctrine, justifying sex with their daughters as God himself set the example by impregnating his daughter Mary.

14. Overwhelming Female Anguish

Depression and suicide attempts among the women and teens in these communities is high.

15. Survivors Often Traumatized

Many consider polygamy a form of human trafficking, and we must forget that women who escape almost always have post-traumatic stress disorder at levels akin to torture.

16. Rampant Psychological Abuse

The inter-family politics and rivalries, sister-wife cruelty, psychological manipulations, and intimacy needs of the wives that are not met.

17. Cult Mind Control

There is power in religious fundamentalism and the ability of cult mind-control and spiritual blackmail to impair proper decision-making.

18. Objectification of Women

Polygamous leaders have been known to frequently use the granting of wives, or the trading of wives and daughters as currency or reward for favored males- as well as sexual persuasion.

19.  Sexual Exploitation

To justify legalizing polygamy as a free choice for women, we must not know that women can be “reassigned” to another husband at the whim of the prophet and will be required to share their bodies to consummate those "marriages" accordingly.

20. Loss of Reproductive Choice

Women are commanded to continually bear children, that their bodies are vessels to be worn out in childbirth.

21.  Sex with Religious Counselor Non-Consensual

To justify legalizing polygamy as a free choice for women, regarding being made a ‘wife’ of a religious leader, we must forget the legal description of non-consensual sex.

  • Utah Code § 76-5-406. Sexual offenses against the victim without consent of victim -- Circumstances

  • An act of [sexual contact] is without consent of the victim under any of the following circumstances . . .

    • the actor is a health professional or religious counselor

  • (b) "Religious counselor" means a minister, priest, rabbi, bishop, or other recognized member of the clergy.

  • Consent achieved through pressure, coercion, or threats is also not considered voluntary consent. Sexual activity obtained through involuntary consent (or coercion) is against the law.

22.  Clergy Abuse Excused

In fundamentalism protecting freedom of religion trumps crimes committed by those in ecclesiastical/fiduciary positions of trust, even when they issue terroristic threats to the woman’s eternal well-being if they do not subjugate themselves to the desires of the fiduciary spiritual advisor. This includes the requirement to consent to a felony being committed against them.

  • Under state law, a prisoner cannot consent to sexual relations with a jailer or someone else who controls the conditions of the prisoner's confinement.

  • How then is it possible for a woman to consent to have sexual relations with someone who she believes controls the conditions of her eternal life?

23.  Abnormal Seems Normal

People immersed in a culture with patriarchal practices, gender mistreatment or deviant behaviors will find female subjugation and unacceptable treatment to be normal and acceptable.

24.  Polygamy is a Felony for a Reason

Polygamy is a felony and is expressly outlawed by the Utah constitution, the United Nations and our Constitution. . . 

25.  Religion Cannot Be Used as a Defense

Polygamy is a felony, that religion cannot be used as a defense, and that the Utah Supreme Court ruled that "the protections enshrined in the federal constitution, as well as our state constitution, guaranteeing the free exercise of religion and conscience ... do not shield polygamous practices from state prosecution."

26.  Harms Are Endemic

Canadian Chief Justice Bauman conducted the most comprehensive review on the effects of polygamy ever done, after which he upheld the country’s ban on polygamy, writing “the harms associated with the practice are endemic; they are inherent,” and that the harms “are not simply the product of individual misconduct; they arise inevitably out of the practice.”

27.  Cannot Consent to Felony Against Yourself

To justify legalizing polygamy as a free choice for women, we must disregard the law, superseding it with a personal opinion that “because a woman was over 18,” she must have been able to consent to the felony committed against her, therefore she could not be a victim and no crime was committed.

28.  Slave-like Conditions

Women and children often live in poverty and if they work, it is frequently under slave-like conditions, working for little or no pay but giving it to the "building of the kingdom" which is run by men. This is also known as human trafficking.

29.  Consent Impossible for Enslaved Women

Legally, there is no such thing as ‘consent’ to being trafficked, and in the law, consent is irrelevant.

  • (See Myth #4)

  • (See Myth #9

  • “Reality: A victim cannot consent to be in a situation of human trafficking. Initial consent ... is not relevant to the crime, nor is payment.


  • The Belgian law on trafficking in human beings recognizes that consent is irrelevant  (See: Belgium Law containing provisions to combat trafficking in human beings and child pornography, Chapter 1, Art. 3 amending Art. 380bis §1.1, 1995 available at

  • CONSENT INVALID DEFENSE IN COLOMBIA: The Colombian law states that “the consent given by the victim to any form of exploitation defined in this article will not construe a cause for exoneration from personal responsibility.” (See: Colombia Human Trafficking Law, Article 3, 2005 (Spanish))


Some international standards such as  (UN Protocol) recognize that The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children traffickers often use subtle forms of “deception or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability” to ensnare their victims. Certainly, a prophet is in a position of power over those who believe in he speaks for God. 

The Protocol holds a trafficker accountable if he commits the acts described in any of the following three situations:

  1. When the trafficker uses “threats or use of force” to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation; OR

  2. When the trafficker uses “other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability” to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation;

  3. When the trafficker uses the “giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

31.  Violation of Human Rights

Polygamy suffers the opprobrium of international human rights condemnation, that it contravenes a woman’s right to equality with men, can have serious emotional and financial consequences, and that it undermines the rights of women in relation to family life, security and citizenship.

32.  Negative Harms of Polygamy

Polygamy is NOT a victimless crime between consenting adults, we must forget the plethora of studies documenting the harmful effects of polygamy, including:

  • Higher rates of disabilities from incestual relationships.

  • Higher rates of depression in senior wives.

  • Higher rates of anxiety in senior wives.

  • Higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization and outpatient psychiatric treatment.

  • Higher rates of marital dissatisfaction n wives of polygamous marriages.

  • Lower levels of self-esteem in wives of polygamous marriages.

  • Higher levels of somatization, phobia and other psychological problems in wives of polygamous marriages.

  • Lower levels of academic achievement in wives of polygamous marriages.

  • Higher rates of psychological distress.