'Mormon' wife critical of B.C. polygamy ruling

A woman currently living in the largely polygamous community of Bountiful, B.C., pulls no punches in expressing her view of the B.C. Supreme Court decision upholding Canada's laws against polygamy.

B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Baumann said in his ruling that, "women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm. They face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse."

"When you say because I'm an FLDS [Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints] Mormon that I am in an abusive relationship or abusive, that's really unfair," Miriam Chatwin told CBC News.

While members of the breakaway sect call themselves Mormon, mainstream Mormons disavow any connection with FLDS adherents.

Chatwin is a niece of Winston Blackmore, head of one of the two FLDS sects in the controversial B.C. community and one of the two men whose challenge of polygamy laws led to the court hearing last winter and ultimately to Wednesday's decision.

A mother of three boys, Chatwin is in a monogamous relationship, but defends the multiple-marriage choices made by many others in Bountiful.

"We're in the 21st century, you know, we have marriages of every kind," she said. "To say that I can choose to be gay, I can choose to be a swinger, I can choose to be whatever I want to be but I can't choose to be in a relationship with more women and one man, I think it's unrealistic."

In nearby Creston, B.C., one anti-polygamist support group disputes Chatwin's view and worries about young girls allegedly moved in and out of Bountiful for polygamous marriages to older men.

The RCMP announced in August that it was investigating allegedly documented cases of girls as young as 12 being transported across the border. The documents were submitted as evidence during the B.C. Supreme Court hearing in March.

"Our concern is still that these young girls are being brought into the country and the immigration department and the border control are doing nothing about it," said Audrey Vance, head of a group called Altering Destiny Through Education.

Blackmore, who RCMP have alleged has at least 19 wives, told CBC news Wednesday after the court decision that it will not be the last word on polygamy in this country.

"I don't think anybody, from the very beginning, thought that it would be anything other than it would be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court [of Canada]," Blackmore said.

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