slavery. here. now.

An intersection:

First, Peter Landesman's story in the Sunday NYT mag about U.S. sex slavery:

Bales estimates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time. Laura Lederer, a senior State Department adviser on trafficking, told me, ''We're not finding victims in the United States because we're not looking for them.''

It is a haunting piece and brutal.

But it collides nicely (for relative definitions of "nice") with this discussion on Making Light about the girls of Short Creek, a fundamentalist latter-day saints' (FLDS) town that squats on the Arizona/Utah border:

Teenage girls are assigned to much older and already-married husbands, essentially as chattel, in much the same spirit in which an Anglo-Saxon leader would hand out gold rings to his followers. This monopoly has made multiple wives an index of status and favor for men in the community.

Don’t imagine these households as cheery group or line marriages. Most of these women are leading bleak, impoverished, hopelessly dreary lives.

What's most striking to me, at least, is the similarity of these examples. It goes beyond the mechanics of how you break a young child's will to the vivid exploration of how little is being done about this. I suspect most Americans know more about Bennifer's break-up than what goes on in FLDS strongholds and suburban basements. And I'm not sure why that is, although I'd welcome any insight.

And for more on the FLDS and their pathological wackiness, check out Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, which is nominally about a brutal murder of a woman who dared question the FLDS lifestyle but is also a great primer on all that is Mormon.


There was an exposé recently of the Mormon movement in Sweden. Well documented accusations of child abuse within the community. Elders of the group were aware of the situation, some even participated, yet the outer representation of the movement was deemed much more important than the safety and wellbeing of the kids involved. We're talking long term also, the 'whistleblower' was a man in his early twenties who had been abused throughout his childhood.
The reaction of the elders to the program? They voted to exclude the young man from the congregation, essentially cutting him loose into a society that he had had very little experience of during his life.
Others intrerviewed were pressured into withdrawing their statements.

Let me be the first to state that Mormonism isn't alone in its child molestation problems--just ask a Catholic. Still, two things seem to make the LDSs seem somehow more culpable in what's going on. First, the church itself promotes a squeaky clean image and seems hellbent on kicking out anyone who dares question it, which is keeping this odd little religion from ever developing any philosophies that stand up well to outside theological probing. Second--and more disturbing--is how well protected those high in the organization are and how vulnerable those at the bottom of the structure are. I thought one of the principles of most religions was to protect the weak, even if the religion itself is responsible for creating the weak in the first place.

both priests and politicians have that in common, protecting the weak, i sound cynical when i say it's a great sales pitch but really, when the ladder has been scaled sufficiently the weak tend to become a diminihingly important group to appeal to.

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