Imagine a society where men are allowed multiple wives, one in which women are required to dress in a specific manner; where women are forced into arranged marriages and are often horribly abused when they dare to question or refuse do a man's bidding. It sounds like some of the middle east cultures, doesn't it?
But no. It's right here in the United States. It is illegal. Full stop. It is illegal. Yet it exists. One has to wonder why.
I found interesting reading on How Polygamy Works at the howstuffworks site. For instance, I was unaware that monogamous practices, worldwide, are in the minority. Some critics of Western practices even suggest that our way of frequent divorce and remarrying is a form of "serial polygamy".
Early reasons for the practice included the decimation of male populations due to war. At various times it had been practiced in Vietnam, China, among many African tribes and many of our own Native American tribes. It fell out of favor with most long ago.
Even in many Islamic countries it is a perk for the affluent and is being considered "old fashioned" by many of the younger generation.
Yet we have our walled compounds enclosing cults that continue the practice of forced sexual servitude. They have found ways around the legalities by intimidating the women and separating one "marriage" from another by manipulating "church" and "civil" law.
The tragedy of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints drama we're watching play out in Texas is the children. No where in my reading did I find abuse of children condoned. Yet here we have three generations of women who have never experienced the world outside their compound.
What is to be done with them? The women who are free to return may well do so. It is all they know. It is their reality, their normal.
We pride ourselves on our freedom of religion but what differentiates a religion for the worship of one's God versus a cult in which to indulge one's most purient interests?
A walled and fenced compound might be a clue.