When charges against two polygamist leaders from Bountiful were quashed by a B.C. Supreme Court judge, Audrey Vance became determined to find another avenue to break up a community she says violates women’s rights.
Vance is the co-chair of Altering Destiny Through Education, a Creston-based organization that helps women escape the nearby polygamist community.
“Just because we’ve had a set-back, we can’t quit,” she said with regards to the Sept. 22 decision not to charge Winston Blackmore and James Oler with polygamy. They may still face charges at a later date.
But Vance said the right to religious freedom is trumping the rights of women and children.
“We’ve been making big allowances for minority groups because we want to be seen as (tolerant). But I think we’re bending it too far,” she said.
“If Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t let their children have blood transfusions because of religious freedoms, the court overrules them.”
That’s why her group is concentrating on issues of immigration and income-tax fraud to keep the leaders in Bountiful under the microscope.
Vance said bringing underage girls to Bountiful from the U.S. to marry men is tantamount to human trafficking.
“They’re being brought in as prostitutes under the guise of religion,” Vance said. “The ones we had hoped would testify won’t, because they’re in the country illegally,” she said, adding that they don’t want to lose their children.