This past week, as I read about fundamentalist Mormon mothers in Texas despairing over the loss of their children who were removed by the state, I wondered if these women also lament the loss of the young boys their community has exiled to keep the polygamous family structure of the community intact. One of the secrets of these communities is that they must expel many of their boys as they reach sexual maturity. There simply aren't enough "brides" to go around unless the number of men in the community is held to very low levels.
During their youth, boys who live in these polygamous cult compounds are often worked mercilessly like slaves, only to be expelled later on religious and moral charges trumped up by authoritarian leaders who view them as sexual competitors.
I realize that the women who are recently pleading for the return of their children were and are, themselves, victims of their "husbands" and the fundamentalist Mormon leadership. But they have also participated in the victimization of their children. Many have allowed their daughters to be raped and they have let their young sons be used as slaves who are tossed out of the community, defenseless and ill-equipped to deal with life, all to insure the continued power and sexual gratification of aging creeps like Warren Geoffs.
The position of women in these communities as both victims and supporters of ongoing victimization raises a question in my mind about legal accountability. To what extent, if any, should they be held legally responsible for cooperating with or even abetting the abuse of their own children? There is no question about prosecuting the men in this situation. But, what if we learn that a 40-year-old mother demanded that her 14-year-old daughter marry a 49-year-old man selected by the leadership? What if she bullied her daughter into such an arrangement? Should there be any legal accountability on the part of that mother for abetting rape? If a female drug addict with a history of sexual abuse pimped her 14-year-old daughter at the behest of an abusive boyfriend, many people would favor her prosecution despite her difficult history and circumstance. Is the situation of responsibility in Texas completely different?