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Polygamy in Canada Research Paper

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Updated: Dec 2nd, 2019


Polygamy is a form of marriage whereby more than two parties are involved. Polygamy occurs in three forms. When a man marries more than one wife simultaneously, this is referred to as polygyny. If a woman is married to more than one man, this is polyandry. In other cases, a family may consist of multiple husbands and wives. This is termed as group marriage. The three forms of polygamy have been found in many communities but the most common form is polygyny.

Polygyny is allowed in many societies where it is termed as a normal activity. In many traditional societies, polygamy was highly valued because increase in the number of wives led to large numbers of children. Having many children was a mark of prestige in many societies and people with large families were regarded as a rich. However polygamy has negative effects on the society. Polygyny affects the economy of the society as well as the socialization process (Geldart 104).

In Canada, polygamy has been banned by the law. The laws of the country prohibit the practice of having more than one spouse. People who go against the law are imprisoned for five years according to the constitution of the country.

The country has not been in a position to successfully prosecute the practice of polygamy for a long period of time. In addition to this, the country has not kept records about the number of people who engage in the practice. The practice was common among the founding members of the Mormons, the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints.

The first Mormons to visit Canada came from the United States in the year 1988. Followers of this faith allowed the devoted male members to marry more than one wives. The laws against polygamy in Canada came as a result of this and the government wanted the practice to come to an end. During this period, the prime minister in Canada was John A. MacDonald. During his reign, many religious groups were traveling to the country since accessibility was enhanced by the Pacific rail road which had been constructed in Canada.

The Prime minister had instructed Charles Card, the head of the first Mormons colony not to allow polygamists in to the country. Canada passed laws against polygamy and these laws were especially aimed at the Mormons who occupied the Prairies because they practiced polygamy. Even though the criminal code targeted the Mormon group, it is now applicable to all groups who get engage in conjugal unions involving more than one spouse at then same time (Hamilton 50).

The law Canada’s Law against polygamy should be upheld so that the society is not affected. This is because polygamy has many negative impacts on the society. If Canada’s law is overturned it means that polygamy will be allowed. People will be allowed to get more than one spouses at then same time.

Overturning of the Canada’s law will affect the life of children and women in their economic and cultural ways. Effects of polygamy can lead to family breakages in severe cases. If polygamy is allowed in Canada, the life of children is greatly impacted. For Instance, most of the polygamy, marriages are arranged whereby a suitable husband for a girl is gotten by the parents. The two are then allowed to marry.

The rights of the girl are violated because she is not given the time to make her own choice. In many cases these marriages are forced. The girl may be forced to marry somebody who is not her own choice. Young girls are also forced to marry people who are not of their own age. In most traditional societies, young girls used to be married to old men almost the age of their parents. If Polygamy is allowed, the same will happen to young girls in Canada (Hamilton 50).

As a result of polygamy children become aware of sexual matters at an early age. In many polygamous communities children get married as early as fifteen years. These children are then exposed to sexual matters at this early age. They may not be fully developed sexually and this can lead to further complications like difficulties in child bearing later in their lives. Moreover, polygamy leads to school dropouts among many young children in schools.

Children are forced to stop their education so that they can marry. Education is very important because children get the knowledge needed in their lives and at the same time, they can get themselves employment. Many children and especially the girl child end up becoming house wives because of lack of education.

In many communities practicing polygamy, the boy child is valued as far as education is concerned because of the assumption that men are supposed to provide for the needs of the family. This leads to neglection of the girl child. In a polygamous family, where there are many wives and one husband, there are, many children because each wife is reproducing. Parental love is very important in the process of child development. Each child is supposed to get full parental love and attention from both parents.

The large number of children in a polygamous family makes it difficult for the father to attend to all children. The father is likely to visit some families much more regularly then other families bearing in mind that each of his wives has her family. This is where the issue of nepotism comes in because some children will be attended better than others (Hardy 179).

Polygamy contributes a lot to the spread of diseases and especially HIV and Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea. These diseases are prevented through being faithful in a marriage or relation ship. Having one sexual partner is the recommended way of preventing sexually transmitted diseases. It is therefore difficult to prevent the spread of these diseases among children who enter in to polygamous marriages because it involves many partners who may not be faithful to each other.

The mortality rate among the youth will go up in Canada if they allow polygamy because once one is infected with the HIV whose cure has not been invented, then the person finally dies. The death of young children is a disadvantage to the nation because the youth are the future of the nation. The young people are expected to be the leaders of tomorrow which makes it a loss to the government if they die at large numbers. Polygamy contributes to the spread of diseases which in turn leads to death of the youth (Hardy 179).

Women face hardship in polygamous marriages. This is because in polygamous communities, men believe that they have full control and authority over their wives and children. Children and women do not have a say in the major decisions of the family. Women and children are supposed to sit, listen and do as per the decision s of men.

The role of women in these societies is not valued. In many of polygamous societies, women are in the control of the domestic sphere. These societies are male dominated. Good employment opportunities are preserved for men.

Women are given minor jobs and the wages are still low. Women are therefore discriminated in many areas as a result of a male dominated society. Jealousy is unavoidable in polygamous families .Enemity comes in as a result of gossip within the members of the family. Members of the family disagree with each other as a result of gossip which can result to fights and in severe cases death can occur (Zeitzen 91).

Polygamy contributes to poverty. This is because there resources are limited. Increase in the number of children implies that more land is needed for the children to sustain themselves. In agricultural societies, land is needed to plant crops and rear animals which provide milk and meat.

In pastoral communities, land is also needed to graze their animals because they move from one place to another in search of water and pasture for their animals. If a family has a small piece of land which can not sustain the people fully, then it means that these people will be poverty stricken. In addition, lack of enough resources prevents children and getting education.

The head of the family is not able to cater for the education expenses of all the children. Bearing in mind that education is the key to good jobs, such people will end being poverty stricken. Lack of employment encourages crimes in the society (Cairncross 45) .Due to idleness and lack of money; many young people end up in bad habits like stealing as they struggle to get something for their survival.

Polygamous families face difficulties during inheritance after the death of the husband. If the husband does not leave the will of who should inherit what after the death, it becomes a problem after death. The husband may also fail to recognize some of his wives as legal wives which imply that they will not inherit anything. The properties may not be enough to all the family members (Brigham Young Card 117).


In conclusion, the law against polygamy should not be overturned because advantages of polygamy are minimal compared to the disadvantages. Generally polygamy has negative impacts which affect the functioning of the family as a whole. Canada as well as other countries should encourage monogamy because of the advantages it has over the disadvantages.

Some of the advantages include full parental love for the children, reduced rate in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases because there hare more chances of being faithful to your partier in a monogamous family. There are no problems as fire as inheritance is concerned because of lack of competition of the women. In monogamous families the re sources are shared amongst few children and this makes it possible for children to get their necessities like education (Geldart 104; May 34).

Annotated bibliography

Geldart, Anne. Islam. Vancouver: Heinemann, 1999.

The book highlights the disadvantages of having a .monogamous marriage. Some of the disadvantages include spread of sexually transmitted diseases, school dropouts and early marriages. The book stresses the important of having monogamous family.

Hardy, Carmon. Solemn covenant: the Mormon polygamous passage. Canada: University of Illinois Press, 1992.

According to this book, polygamy began with the church of Mormons. This religious group traveled to Canada and they encouraged a man to have more than one spouse. The then prime minister in Canada however did not take the idea lightly. The anti-polygamy law was mainly for the Mormon group.

Works Cited

Brigham Young Card. The Mormon presence in Canada. Canada: University of Alberta, 1990.

Cairncross, John. After polygamy was made a sin: the social history of Christian polygamy. New York: Taylor & Francis, 1974.

Geldart, Anne. Islam. Vancouver: Heinemann, 1999.

Hamilton, Marci. God vs. the gavel: religion and the rule of law. London: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hardy, Carmon. Solemn covenant: the Mormon polygamous passage. Canada: University of Illinois Press, 1992.

May, Dean. Utah: A people’s history. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1987.

Zeitzen, Miriam. Polygamy: A cross-cultural analysis. Vancouver: Berg Publishers, 2008.

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