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Flora Jessop was born into the Fundamental Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon Church that claims to still follow the teachings of church founder Joseph Smith and who refused to abandon the practice of polygamy when it was renounced by the church in 1890.
Fortunately, she said, her grandmother was not.
Jessop is one of few women of the sect who have successfully escaped, making her break about 18 years ago after the death of her beloved grandmother and earlier failed attempts. The picture she paints of her life with the FLDS, and the fear she still feels paint a horrible picture of religion gone awry.
Child Protection Project is dedicated to raising awareness about issues of institutionalized child abuse. I am particularly interested in how institutions, especially churches, ignore child abuse reporting requirements; and thus cause unnecessary suffering and pain to children and families. Our religious institutions must be good corporate citizens because their mandate as tax-exempt beneficial, charitable organizations requires that children entrusted to their care be safe.
In April of 2001, Ruby Jessop attempted to break away from an oppressive and abusive isolated community in Colorado City, Arizona after being forced to marry her step-brother. She received insufficient support from government authorities in Utah and Arizona and ended up back under the control of her authoritarian, isolationist community of the FLDS Church polygamists . Since then she's rarely been seen in public, never unescorted. When a girl has tried to run the polygamists isolate them away and re-educate them. Ruby hasn't been able to speak to any outsider since she was returned to the polygamists.
The polygamists fight very hard to get these girls back.
They use threats, intimidation, subterfuge, and they have a legal firm on retainer that is used to manipulate the legal system.
The girls of the FLDS are brought up to be married off at the earliest possible age. The Elders pick husbands for them, usually polygamous men who are much older than they. Sometimes these girls aren’t even aware they are to be married until the day of the marriage.
These children are brought up in a secluded, deprived environment. They are given minimal educational opportunities, don’t watch TV, listen to radio, nor go to movies. They are taught that "outsiders" are of Satan, to be avoided. They are woefully ignorant of the outside world and are taught that forced marriages to older men is normal. Their self-esteem is almost non-existant.
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