Bauman reviewed in considerable detail the expert testimony concerning the harm associated with polygamy. According to this testimony, women in polygamous relationships are at elevated risk of physical and psychological harm, and face higher rates of depressive disorders and other mental-health issues. In addition, they fare worse economically than women in monogamous relationships.Children of plural marriage are also at elevated risk of psychological abuse and neglect, and they “suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, as well as lower educational achievement,” he wrote. And finally, young men are often forced out of polygamous communities, and must navigate the outside world with little education, life skills or social support.Perhaps most important, Bauman stressed that these “effects are not limited to particular cultures or geographic locations; they are universal.” In other words, the harms associated with polygamy appear to be caused by polygamy itself, rather than by the way it is practised by specific people or in a specific location. And it is this finding that ensures Canada’s polygamy law will withstand virtually any legal challenge.To see this, consider the two primary arguments against the criminalization of polygamy. First, opponents of criminalization argue that the law violates section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of religion. And, indeed, Bauman agreed that the law infringes polygamists’ rights under that section.
I think the court has erred: pedophiles should be prosecuted, but polygamy does not necessarily imply pedophilia or harm to the children.