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Affidavit #1 of Dena Hassouneh

Sworn July 22 , 2010


No. S-097767
Vancouver Registry

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

IN THE MATTER OF:

THE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION ACT, R.S.B.C. 1996, C.68

AND IN THE MATTER OF:

THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

AND IN THE MATTER OF:

A REFERENCE BY THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL SET OUT IN


ORDER IN COUNCIL NO. 533 DATED OCTOBER 22, 2009 CONCERNING THE
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF S. 293 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA,
R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46

_____________________________________________________________________________

AFFIDAVIT#1 – DENA HASSOUNEH


______________________________________________________________________

Ministry of Attorney General


Legal Services Branch
1301 -865 Hornby Street
Vancouver BC V6Z 2G3
Telephone: 604 660-5476
Facsimile: 604 660-6797

Craig Jones
Barrister and Solicitor
Affidavit #1 of Dena Hassouneh
Sworn July ,2010

No. S-097767
Vancouver Registry

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

IN THE MATTER OF:

THE CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTION ACT, R.S.B.C. 1996, C.68

AND IN THE MATTER OF:

THE CANADIAN CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

AND IN THE MATTER OF:

A REFERENCE BY THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR IN COUNCIL SET OUT IN


ORDER IN COUNCIL NO . 533 DATED OCTOBER 22 , 2009 CONCERNING THE
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF S. 293 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE OF CANADA,
R.S .C. 1985, c. C-46

AFFIDAVIT

I, Dena Hassouneh, of Portland Oregon, in the State of Utah , in the United States of

America, MAKE OATH AND SAY AS FOLLOWS:

1. I am an Associate Professor with the Oregon Health & Sciences University

School of Nursing . I have a Ph .D. in Nursing as well as three clinical masters' degrees

and certifications including : a Master of Nursing Science in Community Health, an Adult

Nurse Practitioner (ANP) post-masters certificate, and a Psychiatric Mental Health

Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) post-masters certificate. I am currently licensed as an


-2-

ANP and PMHNP in the State of Oregon with prescriptive authority. My research and

practice has focused primarily on the mental health impacts of trauma on women from

marginalized populations. I have personal knowledge of the matters set out in this

affidavit.

2. Attached to my affidavit and marked as Exhibit "A" is a copy of my current


curriculum vitae.

3. I have been retained by the Ministry of the Attorney General to answer questions
related to my area of expertise. Attached to my affidavit and marked as Exhibit "B" is a
copy of a letter from Freya Zaitz of the Ministry of the Attorney General to myself dated
July 9, 2010 setting out the question that I was to address .

4. I have responded to the question posed to me by Ms. Zaitz in a report dated July
21 , 2010. Attached to my affidavit and marked as Exhibit "C" is a copy of my report
dated , July 21 , 2010 .

SWORN BEFORE ME at the City of )


Portland , in the State of Oregon , in )
the United States of America, this )
day of July, 2010 )
)
)
)
Notary )

Name of Notary
/201.(2 :58- :fUIJIL)dlcie. 12.~
e.JAcluuna5, oL- 770/)~ 5'o3-c;.7()~'i-//7"
Address and Phone Number of Notary.

OFFICIAL SEAL
MARCUS E WILLIAMS
NOTARY PUBLlC,OREGON
COMMISSION NO. 447926
MY COMMISSIONEXPIRES MARCH30, 2014
1
This is exhibit "A" to the Affidavit of Dena Hassouneh Sworn
Before me at Portland, Oregon, U)).A. on this 22.... day of July,
2010. Notary ~~~

CURRICULUM VITAE
DENA HASSOUNEH, RN, ANP, PMHNP, Ph. TD~'_ _ _ _-;::;;;;;;::;:..,-siEAL--"l
." :: OFFICIAL SEAL
Associate Prolessor MARCUS E WILLIAMS
Oregon Health Sciences University NOTARY PUBLlC·Of\EGON
School of Nursing COMMISSION NO. 447926 14
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road MY COMMISSION EXPIRES M~RCH30. 20
Portland, Oregon 97201
Telephone: 503-494-2714
E-mail: phillideialohsu.edu
Faculty web site: http://www.ohsu.edu/son/faculty/hassouneh.shtml

HOME ADDRESS 12317 SE Cedar CT


Happy Valley, Oregon, 97086

TELEPHONE: (503) 698-6030 (home)

LlCENSURES: 9200119 - Oregon RN Licensure, Expiration Date: 417112.


9200119 - Oregon Adult Nurse Practitioner Licensure with Prescriptive Authority and
Dispensing Privileges, Expiration Date: 4171102.
9200 119-0regon Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Licensure with Prescriptive
Authority.
CERTIFICATIONS: 257369-21- American Nurses Credentialing Center, Adult Nurse Practitioner Certification,
Expiration Date: 8/31111.

EDUCATIONAL PREPARATION
4/04-3/06 Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate
Oregon Health & Science University; Portland, Oregon.
9/99-9/00 Post-Doctoral Fellow
Family Nursing
Oregon Health & Science University; Portland, Oregon .
9/96-7/99 Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)
Family Nursing
Oregon Health Sciences University; Portland, Oregon.
9/95-6/96 Adnlt Nurse Practitioner Post-Master's Certificate
Oregon Health Sciences University; Portland, Oregon.
9/93-6/95 M.S. (Master of Science in Nursing)
Community Health Care Systems
Oregon Health Sciences University; Portland, Oregon.
9/87-6/92 B.S. Cum Laude (Bacbelor of Science - Nursing)
School of Nursing
University of Washington; Seattle, Washington.
9/87-6/92 B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)
Women Studies
University of Washington; Seattle, Washington.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
Academic Appointments
7/06-Present Associate Professor
Oregon Health Sciences University School of Nursing; Portland, Oregon.
2
7/00-7/06 Assistant Professor
Oregon Health Sciences University School of Nursing; Portland, Oregon.
9/96-3/97 Medical Surgical Clinical Instructor
Walla Walla School of Nursing, Portland, Oregon .
Clinical Activities
8/06-8/08 Adult & Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Volnnteer Clinician
Adult Health & Psychiatry
Independent Living Resources, Portland, Oregon.
8/05-10/05 Adult Nnrse Practitioner, Volunteer Clinician
Primary Care
Southwest Community Health Clinic, Portland, Oregon.
10/04-10/05 Adult Nurse Practitioner
Student Health, Primary Care Clinic
Job Corps, Troutdale, Oregon.
3/97 - 11100 Adult Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care Provider
Department of Internal Medicine. Clinical areas of interest included domestic violence,
diabetes, hypertension, women's health care, and health promotion.
Kaiser Permanente, Salem, Oregon .
6/92-1 /97 Staff Nurse
Veteran's Administration Hospital, Portland, Oregon.
Other Experience
4-07-present Consultaut
Birzeit University Faculty of Nursing and Allied Health
West Bank, Palestinian Territory
12//05-12//07 President
International Association of Nurses for Palestine.
8/03 - 8/04 Vice-President
Middle Eastern Women's Empowerment Resource Center, Portland, Oregon.
9/98 - 1/00 Domestic Violence Salem Area Clinics Coordinator
Kaiser Perrnanente; Salem, Oregon.
3/97 - 1/00 Adult Nurse Practitioner Clinical Preceptor
Clinical preceptor for Family and Adult Nurse Practitioner Students from Gonzaga and
Oregon Health Sciences University.
Kaiser Permanente, Salem, Oregon.

PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIPS


American Psychiatric Nurses Association
American Nurses Association
National League for Nursing
Oregon Nurses Association
National American Arab Nurses Association
Nurse Practitioners of Oregon
INCITE - Women of Color Against Violence
3
HONORS AND AWARDS
2010 Faculty Marshal
2008 National Institutes of Health, Health Disparities Student Loan Repayment Award $13,000
2007 National Institutes of Health, Health Disparities Student Loan Repayment Award $25,380
2006 Oregon Health & Science University ROSE Award for Outstanding Mentoring
2005 National Institutes of Health, Health Disparities Student Loan Repayment Award $42,000
1999 Muslim Community Center Community Service Award
1993 Women Studies Outstanding Undergraduate Paper Award
1991 Sigma Theta Tau

RESEARCH EXPERIENCE
Ongoing
5/08-2111 Principal Investigator
IROIMH079818-1A, National Institute of Mental Health
"Women, Physical Disability, and Depression: Communities Responding Now!"
Oregon Health & Science University
10/07-1011 0 Principal Investigator
H133G060 135, National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research
"INSIGHT-WPD a Cognitive Behavioral Group Intervention for Women with Physical Disabilities"
Oregon Health & Science University
6/08-12/ 10 Principal Investigator
Sigma Theta Tau International
"The Experiences of faculty of color in predominantly Euro-American Schools of Nursing."
Oregon Health & Science University
Completed
8/06-811 0 Co-Investigator
HUOOO 1-05- I -7315, Department of Defense; Tri-service Nursing Research Program
"Family Reintegration Following Guard Deployment."
Messecar, Principal Investigator
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
9/07-9108 Principal Investigator
Sigma Theta Tau Beta Psi Chapter
"Mental Illness Representations of Arab Muslim Women Living in the United States: A Qualitative
Pilot Study.
Oregon Health & Science University
12/04-lI07 Principal Investigator
#2350, Clinical Research Award, Paralyzed Veterans of America
"Abuse and Health in Men and Women with Spinal Cord Injury and Dysfunction."
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
9105-9/06 Evalnator
6 HHS SM568 I I -0 I, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
"Improving Mental Health and Behavioral Services for American Indian and Alaskan Native
Children ."
Mercer, Principal Investigator
Native American Rehabilitation Association in Collaboration with the Center for Health Disparities
Research, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Oregon.
611104-611 106 Co-Investigator
ROI NR008771-0IAI, National Institute of Nursing Research
"Community Partnered Response to Intimate Partner Violence."
Glass, Principal Investigator
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
4
4/04-4/06 Principal Investigator
Sigma Theta Tau
"Pilot Study of Depressive Symptoms in American Muslim Women."
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
8/04-11 /06 Co-Investigator
R49 CE000232-01, Centers for Disease Control
"Assessing Risk of Repeat Violence in Abusive Female Same-Sex Intimate Relationships."
Glass, Principal Investigator
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
S102-S103 Principal Investigator
Unfunded
"Maltreatment of women with disabilities in health care settings: A
Secondary Analysis of Three Qualitative Data Sets."
Oregon Health & Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
6/02-6/03 Principal Investigator
# 193, American Association of Spinal Cord Injury Nurses
"Abuse of Women with Spinal Cord Injury."
Oregon Health & Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
4/01-4/03 Principal Investigator
I R ISNRlMH07641-0 I, National Institute of Nursing Research
" Women with Physical Disabilities ' Experiences of Abuse."
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
2/01-2/02 Co-Investigator
National Institute of Justice
" Senior and Disabled Services Abuse Project."
Powers, Principal Investigator
Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
9/99 -9/00 Postdoctoral Fellow
T32 BR07061 , National Institute of Nursing Research
" Families in Health, Illness, and Transition."
Postdoctoral Nurse Research Fellowship
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
9/99-6/99 Research Assistant
ROI DA/AAlllS60-01, NIH/NIJ
"Risk Factors for Homicide in Violent Intimate Relationships."
Campbell, Principal Investigator; John's Hopkins University
Multi-Site Study. Study Site: Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon.
S198- 10/99 Principal Investigator
Sigma Theta Tau
"Women of Color's Experiences in Doctoral Programs in Nursing."
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
9/96 - 9/99 Predoctoral Fellow
SF31 NR07219, National Institute of Nursing Research
"Predoctoral Nurse Research Fellowship for Dissertation Study: American Muslim Women 's
Experiences of Abuse: A Narrative Study of Life, Meaning, and Culture."
Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon.
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SCHOLARLY ACTIVITIES
Papers and Presentations
12/08 "Challenges to Maintaining an Academic Di sability Community Partnership with Full
Inclusion" (Hassouneh & McNeff) (Poster presentation at the NIH Health Disparities Summit
, Bethesda, MD.
9/06 " Abuse and Health in Men and Women with SCI/D." (Hassouneh, McNeff, Choroser &
Hanson). Abstract accepted for a poster presentation at the 23 'd Annual Spinal Cord Injury
Conference; Las Vegas, Nevada.
6/06 "Abuse and Health in Women with SCI/D." (Hassouneh, McNeff, & Hanson). Abstract
accepted for a podium presentation at the 5th Hawaiian International Conference on Social
Science; Honolulu, Hawaii.
5/06 "Depressive Symptoms, Acculturative Stress, and Trauma in Arab Muslim Women
living in the U.S.: A Pilot Study." (Hassouneh, & Kulwicki). Abstract accepted for a
podium presentation at the 51h Hawaiian International Conference on Social Science;
Honolulu, Hawaii.
4/06 "The Influence of Gender Role Stereotyping, Homophobia, and Heterosexism, on Female
Same-Sex Intimate Partner Violence: Qualitative Findings from a Mixed Methods Study."
(Hassouneh, Glass, Gardner & Bloom). Abstract accepted for a podium presentation at the 14th
Annual Nursing Network on Violence Against Women International Conference; Portland,
Oregon.
7/05 "Latina and non-Latina Employee Perspective on IPV and the Workplace." (Hassouneh-
Phillips & Hernandez). Abstract accepted for a podium presentation at the 9 th International
Family Violence Conference; Manchester, New Hampshire.
9/05 "Challenges involved in a University-Disability Community Based Collaborative Research
Partnership." (Hassouneh-Phillips, McNeff, Choroser & Hunt) Abstract accepted for a
podium presentation at the 2nd Annual Northwest Health Foundation Collaborative
Community Based Research Conference; Portland, Oregon.
12/05 "Community Partnered Workplace Response to Intimate Partner Violence." (Glass,
Hassouneh-Phillips, Ruiz, Weinstein, Yragui & Dahlstrom) Abstract accepted for a podium
presentation at the 133'd American Public Health Association Annual Meeting; Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania.
9/04 "Abuse of Women with Spinal Cord Injury." (Hassouneh-Phillips & McNeff). Abstract
accepted for a podium presentation at the 21 " Annual American Association of Spinal Cord
Injury Nurses Association; Las Vegas, Nevada.
6/04 "Insider and Outsider Researcher Roles in Collaborative Community Research ." (Hassouneh-
Phillips & McNeff). Abstract accepted for a podium presentation at the Improving the Health
of Our Communities Through Collaborative Research Conference; Portland, Oregon.
4/04 "Abuse of Women with Spinal Cord Injury." (Hassouneh-Phillips). Invited speaker for a
podium presentation at the International Research and Action Conference - Innovations in
Understanding Violence Against Women; Boston, Massachusetts.
9/02 "American Muslim Women's Experiences of Abuse - A Post 911 Perspective." (Hassouneh-
Phillips). Abstract accepted for podium presentation at the Family Violence Prevention Fund
National Conference on Health Care; Atlanta, Georgia.
9/02 "Women with Physical Disabilities' Experiences of Abuse - Preliminary Findings from a
Qualitative Study." (Hassouneh-Phillips). Abstract accepted for podium presentation at the
Family Violence Prevention Fund National Conference on Health Care; Atlanta, Georgia.
7/02 "The impact of911 on American Muslims." (Hassouneh-Phillips). Invited speaker for
podium presentation at the Islamic Society for North American National Conference; Chicago,
Illinois.
9/01 "Abuse of Women with Disabilities: Current Research and Clinical Implications."
(Hassouneh-Phillips). Abstract accepted for podium presentation at the 11 th Nursing Network
on Violence Against Women International Conference; Madison, Wisconsin.
7/01 "Abuse of Women with Disabilities." (Hassouneh-Phillips). Abstract accepted for poster
accepted for presentation at the 26th Nurse Practitioner Symposium; Keystone Resort,
Colorado.
6

6/0 1 "An Education in Racism." (Hassouneh-Ph illips & Beckett). Abstract accepted for poster
presentation at the Annual Northwest N urs ing Education Conference; Portland, Oregon.
4/01 "Re-Thinking Nursing Care of Persons with Di sabilities." (Hassouneh-Phi llips). Invited
Speaker and Conference Participant, World Health Organization International Conference on
Re-thinking Care; Oslo, Norway.
6100 " Wife Abuse in the American Muslim Community." (Hassouneh-Phillips). Abstract accepted
for podium presentation at the 10th International Nursing Conference on Ending Violence
Against Women: Setting the Agenda for the Next Millennium; Vancouver, British Columbia
1/00 "American Muslim Culture and Intimate Partner Abuse." (Phillips). Abstract Accepted for
Podium Presentation at the Il'h International Congress on Women' s Health and Quality of
Life; San Francisco, Californ ia.
Refereed Publications
Hassouneh, D. & Kulwicki, A. (2009). Family privacy as protection: a qualitative pilot study of mental
illness in Arab-American Muslim women. Research in the Social Scientific Study 0/ Religion, 20
(p.195-2l6).
Hassouneh, D., Hanson, G., Perrin, N ., & McNeff, E. (2008). Abuse and health in men and women with SCI/ D.
Journal of Rehabilitation, 74(3), 3-9
Hassouneh, D. & Glass, N. (2008). The Influence of gender-role stereotyping on female same sex intimate partner
violence. Violence Against Women-An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, 14(3), 310-325.
Hassou neh, D., Kulwicki, A. (2007). Mental health , discrimination, and trauma in Arab Muslim women living in the
U.S.: A pilot study. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 10(3),257-262.
Hassouneh, D. (2006). Anti-racist Pedagogy: Challenges faced by faculty of color in predominantly white schools of
nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 45(7), 255 -262.
Hassou neh-Phillips, D., McNeff, E. (2005). " I thought I was less worthy": Low Sexual and Body Esteem and
Increased Vulnerability to Intimate Partner Abuse in Women with Physical Disabilities. Disability and
Sexuality, 23(4),227-240.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D. (2005). Understanding Abuse of Women with Physical Disabilities: An Overview of the
Abuse Pathways Model. Advances in NurSing Science, 28( 1), 70-80.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D., McNeff, E Powers, L., & Curry, M. (2005) Invalidation: a central process underlyi ng
maltreatment of women with disabilities. Women and Health, 41(1),33-50.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D., McNeff, E. (2004). Defining and understanding care-related violence against women with
spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord II/jUly NurSing, 21(2), 75-81.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D. (2003). Strength and vulnerability: spirituality in abused American Muslim Women's lives.
Issues in Mental Health NurSing, 24(6), 681-694.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D., & Beckett, A. (2003). An education in racism. Journal of NurSing Education, 42(6),258-265.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D., & Curry, M. (2002). Abuse of women with disabilities: State of the Science. Rehabilitation
Counseling Bulletin, 45(2), 96-104.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D. (2001). American Muslim women's experiences of leaving abusive relationships. Health Care
for Women International, 22(4),415-432.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D. (2001). Polygamy and wife abuse : A qualitative study of Muslim women in America. Health
Care for Women International, 22,735-748.
Hassouneh- Phillips, D. (2001). "Marriage is half of faith and the rest iffear Allah": Marriage and spousal abuse
among American Muslims. Violence Against Women - An International and Interdisciplinary Journal, 7 (8),
927-946.
Curry, M., Hassou neh-Phillips, D., Johnston-Silverberg, A. (2001). Abuse of women w ith disabilities: An ecological
model and review. Violence Against Women - An International and Interdisciplinmy Journal, 7( I), 60-79 .

Non-Refereed Pnblications
Hassouneh, D. & Curry, M. (2010) . Nursing care of abused women with disabilities. In J. Campbell & J. Humphreys
(Eds.), 2"d ed. Family violence and nursing practice. New York: Springer.
Hassouneh, D. (2008). Reframing the diversity question (editorial). Journal ofNursing Education, 47(7), 291-292
7
Hassouneh, D. (2008). Mustada'afah (Vulnerability) in Arab Muslim Women living in the U.S. In M. de Chesnay
(Ed.), Caringfor the vulnerable: per;pectives in nursing theory, practice, and research (2"d ed) (pp. 367-374.
Boston: Jones and Bartlett.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D. & Curry, M. (2004). Nursing care of abused women with disabilities. In J. Campbell & J.
Humphreys (Eds.) l;t ed, Family violence and nursing practice, (pp. 307-360). Philadelphia: Lippincott.
Hassouneh-Phillips, D., & Curry, M. (2001) Re-thinking care of persons with disabilities: A vision for Nursing. In:
Rethinking Care. Available: http://www.leeds.ac.ukldisability-studies/archiveukiWHO/rcpapers.pdf

TEACHING
2009 N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing
2008 N712 Health Disparities for Advanced Practice
2007 N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing; N616A Qualitative Methods for
Nursing Science
2006 N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing; N644 Gender-Based Violence
2005 N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing; N654 Health Disparities and
Nursing Research; N522 Advanced Practice Nursing Roles
2004 N519 A and B Applied Pharmacology I and ll; N512 Human Diversity and Social
Issues; N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing
2003 N519 A and B Applied Pharmacology I and II; N512 Human Diversity and Social
Issues; N612 A and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing
2002 N519B Applied Pharmacology II; N512 Human Diversity and Social Issues; N612 A
and B Philosophy of Science in Nursing; 509 U Practicum in Primary Care
Management
2001 N512 Human Diversity and Social Issues; 509 Sand T Practicum in Primary Care

DISSERTATION COMMITTEES 2009-2010 Academic Year

Isabelle Soule
Aaron Tobacco
Tara Gregory

SELECTED SERVICE
2010 British Columbia Supreme Court Expert Testimony
2009-2010 PhD Curriculum Task Force
2009-present Diversity Advisory Council
2008-present Consulting Board National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
2008-present FacuIty Senate
2008-present Chair, Faculty Affairs Committee
2007 -present PhD Admissions and Progression Committee
2007 PhD Comprehensive Examination Review Committee
2006-2007 Faculty Affairs Committee
2006-2008 Peer Reviewer - Journal of Nursing Education
2006 PhD Candidacy Examination Committee
2005-present Editorial Review Board Advances in Nursing Science
2005-present Peer Reviewer - Research in Nursing and Health
2005 Chair - PhD Preliminary Examination Committee
8

PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES
Christine Tanner RN, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, School of Nursing
Oregon Health Sciences University
3181 S. W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, Oregon 9720 I
(971) 678-341 I
e-mail: tannerc@ohsu.edu

Carol Terhune, JD, Ph.D., MA.


Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Portland, Oregon 9720 I
(503) 4 I 8-2 I 67
emai l: terhunec@ohsu.edu

Laurie Powers, Ph.D.


Professor, School or Social Work
Portland State University
Regional Research Institute
PO Box 75 I, 1600 SW 4th, Suite 900
Portland, Oregon 97207
(503) 725-4040
e-mail: powersl@pdx.edu
'Tf--,'O if, C'lh, b r+ to
HtL I\I'FI ijf1u'd- Cl i~

Q
BRITISH
COLUMBIA
The Best Place on Earth

July 9,2010 OFFICIAL SEAL


MARCUS E WILLIAMS
Personal and Confidential NOTARY PUBLlC'OREGON
Via Email COMMISSION NO 447926
MY COMMISSION EXPIRES MARCH 30, 2014

Dr. Dena Hassouneh


Oregon Health & Science University
School of Nursing Portland Campus
3455 SW US Veterans Road, SN-6S
Portland, OR 97239

Dear Ms. Hassouneh:

Re: Polygamy Reference In Canada

Thank you for your agreement to be retained to provide expert opinion evidence on our
reference to the constitutionality of section 293 of Canada's Criminal Code.

Section 293 criminalizes the practice of polygamy in Canada. It has been suggested that this
provision may contravene certain protections in our Charier of Rights and Freedoms, including
the right to religious freedom. The reference will answer this question. We expect that one of
the issues the court will have to resolve in answering the constitutional question is whether the
criminal prohibition on polygamy is justified on the basis that polygamy causes harm to those
who enter into polygamous marriages and to society generally.

Based on your paper, 'Polygamy and Wife Abuse: A Qualitative Study of Muslim Women in .
America' , the questions that we ask you to address are as follows:

What are the emotional, psychological and social impacts of the practice of polygamy on
individuals who have experienced abuse in polygamous relationships, as compared with
fhe same impacts on individuals who have experienced abuse in monogamous
relationships? Why do you think the harms experienced differ between these two
groups?

We expect that your report would include an explanation, based on your clinical practice and
review of any relevant literature, of:

• the difference between qualitative and empirical research;

• the nature and goals of your qualitative study;

• the types of harms suffered by Muslim women in polygamous relationships and


whether they differed from the harms reported by others in the course of your study;
Ministry of Legal Services B(anch Location:
Attorney General Vancouver Office 1301 - 865 Hornby Street
Va ncouver Be vez 2G3
Telephone : 604660..0673
Facsimile: 604 660.{i797
-2 -

• your general observations as to the type of psychological impacts polygamy has on


Muslim women, particularly those in abusive relationships;

• your general observations as to the treatment and prognosis for women who have
suffered harms in polygamous relationships as compared with the other women you
have studied;

• the reasons that there is little or no empirical research on whether there are harms
associated with Muslim polygamy in North America;

• your observations regarding the North American applicability of Dr. Alean AI-Krenawi's
research findings pertaining to Muslim polygamy, any differences that you have
observed, and any reasons for those differences.

Your report shoUld also contain a statement of your qualifications and a copy of your CV. In
respect of your qualifications, could you please include a description of:

• your clinical and research experience involving Muslim women generally, in addition to
Muslim women in polygamous relationships;

• your overall experience in conducting qualitative research regarding trauma and


violence against women from marginalized popUlations; and

• your personal background in terms of your familiarity with Muslim culture.

If you have reviewed any literature or studies in preparation for your report, that should be
stated too.

In addition the court rules require that experts certify in their reports that they understand their
duty to the court. In that regard, please include a statement certifying the following:
(a) that you are aware that in giving an opinion to the court, you have a duty to assist the
court and you are not to be an advocate for any party, and
(b) that you have prepared your report in conformity with that duty.

Finally, we note that the rule in Canada is that any privilege over the contents of an expert's file
is lost once he or she takes the witness stand. The other parties will be entitled to review
anything in your expert file, including interview notes, draft reports and instructions from
counsel. We ask that you please include all material you generate in the course of this retainer
in a file and that you bring that file with you to Vancouver in November in the event that you are
required to testify.

We look forward to working with you.


1

This is Exhibit "C" to the Affidavit of Dena


Hassouneh Sworn Before me at Portland, OR,
U.S.A. this fL~~-:- ~y of July, 2010.
Notary2?Zd.~~

OFFICIAL SEAL
MARCUS E WILLIAMS
Expert Report of Dena Hassouneh NOTARY PUBLlC·OREGON
COMMISSION NO. 447926
MY COMMISSION EXPIRES MARCH 30, 2014
July 21, 2010

Introduction and Statement of Qualifications

I have been retained by the British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General for the
purpose of writing a report concerning the impacts of the practice of polygamy among
Muslims living in North America. I understand my duty to the court and respectfully
submit the report accordingly.
My professional credentials include a Ph.D. in Nursing as well as three clinical master
degrees and certifications including a Master of Nursing Science in Community Health,
an Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP) post-masters certificate, and a Psychiatric Mental
Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) post-masters certificate. I am currently licensed as
an ANP and PMHNP in the State of Oregon with prescriptive authority.

My research and practice has focused primarily on the mental health impacts of trauma
on women from marginalized populations. I have served as Principal Investigator on six
qualitative studies of violence against women and as Co-Investigator and qualitative
expert on four additional investigations of this phenomenon in Muslim, Latino, Native-
American, and Lesbian Bisexual/Transgendered communities. HI As part of this work I
conducted the study "American Muslim Women's Experiences of Abuse: A Narrative
Study of Life, Meaning, and Culture" which I will refer to and expand later in this
report. l oS I am currently the Principal Investigator on two randomized controlled trials
testing peer implemented group therapy in women with disabilities using a community-
base participatory research design. My clinical work in the community has included
providing psychotherapy to women with disabilities who have been crime victims and
working with the Middle Eastern Women's Resource Center to help women from this
community address issues of violence in their lives. Prior to that, I worked informally
with members of the African-American Muslim community to assist them in developing
an organized community response to violence against women. It is from this
background that I approach the topic of polygamy in Muslim families living in North
America. As a Muslim woman I find this topic personally challenging since mainstream
interpretations of my religion support the practice of polygamy in certain contexts.
2

However, my work with women in the community indicates that the practice, more
often than not, is a harmful one. Patriarchal family structures lend themselves to abuse
of power regardless of whether they are monogamous or polygamous. However, the
addition of a second, third, or fourth wife to a family unit increases the complexity of the
family structure and introduces the possibility of additional harms. This report explores
the harms associated with Muslim polygamy through an examination of the research
literature, discussion of my clinical work, and analysis of my study of violence against
Muslim women in America.

The Question I was Asked to Address

The central question posed in the letter I received from counsel for the Attorney General
reads as follows:

"What are the emotional, psychological and social impacts of the practice of
polygamy on individuals who have experienced abuse in polygamous
relationships, as compared with the same impacts on individuals who have
experienced abuse in monogamous relationships? Why do you think the
harms experienced differ between these two groups?"

I have examined this question in two main parts. First, I summarize my review of the
literature on polygamy in Muslim families. In this part, in addition to summarizing the
available literature I also apply some of the themes from the research to some cases
from my clinical practice. Second, I comment on the study I conducted and the article I
wrote entitled, "Polygamy and Wife Abuse: A Qualitative Study of Muslim Women in
America". Finally I end the report with some concluding remarks.

Part One: Review of Literature on Polygamy in Muslim Families and


Application of Themes to Clinical Cases

Although the prevalence of polygamy among Muslim populations in North America is


unknown, the existence of the practice has been established. 2 Ongoing immigration of
Muslims to North America and a steady stream of converts suggest that this practice will
continue. Given these realities, information pertaining to the practice of Muslim
polygamy in North America and its effects on health and society is needed to inform
clinicians, legal, health, and social service systems, and the development of health
policy.

Despite the need for information about Muslim polygamy in North America, very little
empirical information about the practice is available. Moreover, obtaining accurate
information is likely to be challenging at best since polygamy is illegal in both the United
States and Canada and the practice is widely condemned by the dominant culture in
both societies. Given these contexts, Muslims may fear consequences for disclosure of
3

polygamy to non-Muslims. Moreover, like other marginalized populations, North


American Muslims are often reluctant to participate in studies viewed as stigmatizing to
the larger group. In the aftermath of 911 which has included negative stereotyping,
deportation, profiling, and attacks on persons and mosque communities, silence about
stigmatizing topics has only intensified. 12 For these reasons, researchers can expect to
face substantial challenges obtaining access to members of the polygamous North
American population.

Patterns and Key Concepts Identified in the Literature

Given the paucity of knowledge available about Muslim polygamy in North America,
examination of the research literature on Muslim polygamy generally is a reasonable
starting point for learning about this complex phenomenon. Numerous studies have
examined the effects of polygamy on Middle Eastern and African women's mental
health. Study findings have demonstrated a consistent pattern of emotional distress and
disabling psychiatric symptoms among women in polygamous marriage.13-27 Somatic
symptoms have been consistently reported across studies and populations, indicating
that this is a robust finding.IS, 16, 18, 19, 2S, 27, 28 Studies by Al-Krenawi have also
demonstrated that women in polygamous marriages report significantly more
symptoms of depression, anxiety, hostility, phobia, paranoid ideation, psychoticism and
other psychiatric symptoms in addition to worse general symptom severity.'s, 16, 18, 19
Psychiatric symptoms were particularly prevalent among senior wives resulting in
coining of the term "first wife syndrome" by EI-Sherbiny who posited that the common,
severe, and prolonged psychological symptoms experienced by first wives represent a
culturally specific psychiatric condition.25 Poorer marital satisfaction, self-esteem, and
life satisfaction, and greater vulnerability to domestic violence among polygamous wives
compared to monogamous wives has also been reported. IS, 17-18 Few sources provide
information pertaining to polygamy and women's physical health status. Information
that is available indicates that women from polygamous marriages are less likely to
accept birth control 29 and are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections
from their husbands compared to women in monogamous marriages.2O, 30 One paper on
Indonesian women identified polygamy as playing an important role in women's
likelihood of acquiring HIV.31

Several studies conducted by Elbedour and colleagues 32-34 as well as Al Krenawi and
colleagues 3s-37 examined child outcomes in Bedouin Arab polygamous families. Al-
Krenawi and colleagues' findings consistently indicated that polygamy is strongly
associated with significantly poorer psychiatric, social, and academic outcomes in
children in more than one age group,28, 3S-37 Elbedour and colleagues' findings were
mixed with some positive and negative findings reported.32, 33, 38
4

Information pertaining to the quality of family relationships and family functioning


provides a window of understanding as to why women and children's health, and in
particular mental health, may be detrimentally affected by polygamy. Very consistently
reports have documented jealousy and competition between co-wives, low marital
satisfaction among senior wives, and decreased access to paternal time and resources. 13.
15. 18'20, 32, 39-41 Preferences for one wife over another contribute to this underlying
dynamic. The theme that remarriage often occurs due to the "failure" of senior wives to
remain physically attractive, produce children, or provide a love interest was also very
consistent across papers. Bove & Valeggia's observation that polygamy places women
under the authority of a husband from whom they all seek finite emotional support,
paternal investment (for women with children), and financial resources, underscores the
common challenges reported in the literature.2 o

A recent article in the literature further elucidates the challenges inherent in the practice
of polygamy in patriarchal contexts. Profanter and Cate conducted a mixed methods
study examining the perspective of polygamous Muslim husbands with regard to their
ability to deal justly with their wives.40 The study was conducted with 103 Bedouin-Arab
husbands of three generations living in Southern Oman. They were asked about their 1)
overall treatment; 2) time; 3) finances; 4) emotional attachment; and 5) sexual contact
with their wives. Overall, 90% of husbands reported a general impression of just
treatment of all of their wives, 80-4% stated that they gave equal time to their wives;
93% claimed to distribute money equally among wives, 73% declared that they feel an
evenly distributed emotional attachment to their wives, and 72% reported that there was
no noticeable change in sexual contact with all of their wives following remarriage.
These self-evaluations suggest a lack of insight pertaining to the concept and
implementation of just treatment in polygamous marriage on the part of husbands.
Given that according to mainstream interpretations of Islamic teaching, time, money,
and sex are supposed to be distributed equally among wives, the unequal percentages
reported suggest that men's self-perceived justice is logically inconsistent. FUlthermore,
the qualitative excerpts from the husbands who perceived themselves to be just suggest
a lack of insight into the impact polygamy has on wives. Examples include the following
quotes:

"Life didn't change. The only difference is that I have more sons .. .I was able to
balance between my wives. Because each wife has her own status and I can't lose
one of them because I was sure they would all agree with me ... " (p. 231).

"In our society, we don't face difficulties in remarriage, whether there are good
reasons or not. I am a fair man so they should let me do what I want" (p. 231).

"My wife was mad about my remarriage but she didn't do anything for the sake of
the children. My wife was getting old to give me all that I need. So I remarried.
5

The money and time goes to the first wife and her children but the love goes to
the second wife because she's still young" (p. 235).
"I do not maintain physical contact with my wife because she is too old" (p. 236)
(it should be noted that the man quoted was in his 40S and the older wife her
refers was two years younger than him).

These responses highlight the pitfalls associated with relying on "patriarchal justice" to
regulate major aspects of women's lives such as how many marital partners are included
in the family and who has access to family resources. As with any powerful group "self-
policing" very often fails and those who are disempowered or marginalized, in this case
wives and children, suffer the consequences.

Cultural Considerations

In a review of the literature on the effect of polygamous family structure on child


outcomes, Elbedour and colleagues posited that polygamy must be understood within
the cultural contexts in which it occurS.3 2 Similarly, EI-Shebany's proposed "first wife
syndrome" was also posited as a culturally specific "native" psychiatric category. 25. p. 150
Of particular interest, Elbdeour and colleagues stated that:

... Culture may be able to playa protective role that enables children to thrive
despite multiple risk factors. The mitigating effects of culture are highlighted in
the studies ... conducted in Bedouin-Arab communities. In this culture, polygamy
is not only well accepted but valued, and the large family size that is associated
with polygamy is a signifier of high social status; hence the children of
polygamous families are not stigmatized.... In communities where the practice of
polygamy is valued and frequently practiced, no negative stigma prevails, which
in turn, may provide a buffer from the adverse stressors associated with
polygamous marriage ... 32. p. 265

Given the above, the numerous studies in Bedouin Arab populations where polygamy is
not stigmatized demonstrating a significant association between polygamy and
psychiatric symptoms and symptom severity in women and children raises even greater
concern for families living in societies where polygamy is stigmatized.

Although the stigma associated with polygamy in North American dominant cultures
has been well established,4 2 the extent to which polygamous families are stigmatized
within North American Muslim communities is less clear. My personal experience with
well educated upper class Arab-Americans and members of the local African-American
Muslim community suggests that the practice of polygamy is not well accepted by these
groups. The practice appears to be better accepted among less educated immigrant
Muslim populations. Based on these observations it seems reasonable to speculate that
6

the stigma related to polygamy may exist both within and outside of Muslim
communities in North America. This is significant given the isolating effects of stigma
which in turn is detrimental to the health and safety of women generally and abused
women in particular.

Analysis of Applicability to the North American Context Using Clinical Cases

For reasons noted above, research evidence pertaining to the practice of polygamy
derived from North American Muslim samples is extremely limited. However, the
literature on Muslim polygamy in Middle Eastern and African populations provides a
useful framework for analysis of clinical cases. In this section I consider the
applicability of common themes in the literature to real life examples of North American
women's experience from my clinical practice. Each of the case studies below is from
women that I have spoken with personally.

Case #1

A 35 year old Arab-American woman with four children separated from her husband
after finding out from her prenatal health care provider that she has contracted a
sexually transmitted infection. This woman had not had sexual relations outside of
marriage. In response to the information she confronted her husband who told her that
he had slept with a woman he was considering taking as a second wife. The woman
expressed suicidal ideation and severe depressive symptoms at that time. Her STI
resolved with treatment. She went back to her husband and has continued to suffer from
significant symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Case #2

A 45 year old African-American woman with eight children was informed by her
husband that he had decided to take a second wife. The second wife was younger and
generally viewed as more attractive than the first. The first wife had no means of
financial support other than her spouse and did not see divorce as an option.
Nevertheless she refused to spend time or have sexual relations with her spouse
following his remarriage. At this time she began to experience symptoms of depression
and anxiety and to express feelings of strong hostility toward the second wife. The
children felt abandoned and betrayed by their father's behavior and their relationships
with him suffered. Because polygamy was not a supported practice in this community,
when the marriage was announced publicly, women from the community ostracized the
junior wife who has children of her own from a previous marriage.

Case #3

A 35 year old African-American woman with five children found out that her husband
had secretly taken a second wife. The second wife was the husband's co-worker. The
7

woman sought support from members of the Muslim community and friends of the
family in mediating the dispute. The wife wondered if her husband's choice was a
reflection on her failure as a wife. After mediation, the husband agreed to divorce the
second wife and the family attempted to resume its prior functioning. The second wife
was marginalized and eventually lost contact with the Muslim community. Later in the
marriage, when the woman was out of town caring for an ill family member, her
husband married a second wife once again, this time informing her of the marriage via
long distance. The first wife experienced feelings of anger and betrayal but tried to make
it work for the sake of the children. Eventually the situation became untenable and she
decided to file for divorce. During this time period her oldest son dropped out of school
and was caught shoplifting. Because the boy's relationship with his father was estranged
the woman found herself dealing with her son's psychosocial issues on her own at the
same time that she was experiencing severe emotional distress in the aftermath of
divorce.

Although clinical cases do not offer the same standard of evidence that is offered by
research, they can provide insight into complex clinical problems. The clinical
significance of polygamy in these women's lives and the lives of their children is evident.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety, hostility, anger and betrayal were all reported by
women in these situations. Problems with marital satisfaction and paternal investment
and relationship quality were also apparent. Although the extent to which these patterns
generalize to Muslim women living in North America is unknown, I would speculate that
many of the patterns noted in the literature on Muslim women in polygamous family
structures may also commonly occur in North America.
Part Two: "Polygamy and Wife Abuse: A Qualitative Study of Muslim
Women in America."

Aims of the Study

The article "Polygamy and wife Abuse: A qualitative study of Muslim Women in
America" published findings from my dissertation research.' The aims of this
interpretive qualitative study were to: 1) describe American Muslim women's lived
experiences with abuse; 2) identify culturally specific phenomena which shape
American Muslim women's experiences and perceptions of abuse in the context of a
larger social background; and 3) describe women's interpretation and background
meanings with regard to their experiences with abuse. Because the study focused on
abuse and not polygamy, the identification of themes related to polygamy was an
unexpected finding.
8

Interpretive Qualitative Inquiry


Interpretive qualitative inquiry seeks to describe and understand the meaning of
everyday lived experience. In particular it seeks answers to questions that stress how
social experience is created and given meaning. In contrast, quantitative research
emphasizes the measurement and analysis of causal relationships between variables. 43,
p.8

Interpretive qualitative research values rich descriptions of the social world. Because of
the large amount of data associated with in-depth qualitative research, larger sample
sizes often detract from the overall quality of studies. For this reason sample sizes of 12-
30 participants are common in this type of qualitative research.
Study Sample and Procedures

The study sample included 17 Muslim women from diverse ethnic backgrounds who had
personally experienced abuse or had knowledge of the abuse experiences of American
Muslim women friends, family, or acquaintances. As a member of the Muslim
community I was able to gain access to the population and the trust of participants
thereby enhancing the credibility of the findings. Inclusion of a member of the Muslim
community as a study consultant and ally further strengthened access and trust.
Individual and group in-depth face-to-face unstructured interviews were conducted for
the purposes of capturing American Muslim women's experiences. Each woman
participated in multiple interviews. Second and third interviews were conducted to: 1)
follow-up on areas of concern that participants wanted to address; 2) provide
clarification from previous narrative accounts; and 3) follow-up on themes emerging
from the ongoing analysis.

The data collected for this study included thousands of pages of text allowing for rich
thick description of the phenomenon. Analysis procedures included use of thematic
analysis, paradigm cases and exemplars. Thematic analysis is an iterative process where
analytical categories that include common themes identified both across and within
cases are extracted. Paradigm cases are strong stories that enhance understanding of
lived experience. This analytic strategy allows for the relationships between themes
extant within large categories to be visualized in the context of a whole narrative. Once
categories and themes are in place, the text is systematically searched to identify
exemplars that provide clear and powerful pictures of each theme.

Findings Pertaining to Polygamy

Although polygamy was not discussed or considered during the sampling process, about
half of the participants in the study reported some personal experience with polygamy.
Themes related to polygamy described in the dissertation are lengthier then those that
9

were published due to the space limitations of the journal. These themes are: Secrets
and Lies, Suffering, Unjust Treatment, Co-wife Abuse, Intimate Partner Abuse in the
Context of Polygamy, and Family Trauma. I provide a brief description and suppOlting
data for each of these themes below.

Secrets and Lies


Analysis of participants' experiences with polygamy revealed the common theme of
secrets and lies. In several cases, husbands married, or claimed to have married, another
wife without informing the other wife/wives and/or lied to one or all women.

Participant: I found out that he had this secret relationship ongoing. I mean he
had violated so many different things.

Interviewer: He did not consider polygamy?

Participant: Oh well he said that she was his wife?

Interviewer: He did?

Participant: But it was secret. I was never informed, and speaking to her later, no
they did not have a contract. Her brother and mother had been there and her kids
and two of his friends who were from out of town and still to this day kind of deny
it. And yet I know they have tried in their own way to make reparations. I think
they thought he was going to sow his wild oats and then come to his senses. Yeah,
it is just that she did not have a contract and I was never informed ... But then we
went the actual polygamy route for about six weeks, and then at the end of that he
said "I am going to divorce you."

Interviewer: So you accepted the polygamy route for a while?

Participant: I did because he was going to come to his senses and that it was more
a sense of him being busted. Like he is the kind of person that is never going to
say "I am wrong." When he gets backed into a corner he needs to come out on his
own. I thought this might be a way to allow him an out.

Interviewer: One of the persons I interviewed with regard to polygamy said that
there was no requirement that the husband inform the wife that he is married. Is
this something you have heard before?

Participant: I have heard that. I believe that one school of thought - I can't
remember which one says that. In fact when a group of brothers and sisters came
to my house to ask my ex-husband to leave that was one of my complaints. And
one of the brothers who was very knowledgeable said I believe that one or two
schools of thought - actually that is what the scholars have said. Well, wait a
10

minute! Wait a minute! That just does not make sense at all. I mean you do not
have to inform me that you went out for lunch with your co-workers and spent
ten dollars extra. But this is a major life change. Wait a minute you are not going
to be home half of the time? And your income has not increased but you are going
to support this other household?

The participant in the above exemplar expressed outrage at her ex-husband's behavior.
She found the idea that husbands could take new wives without the knowledge of their
wives and families to be unfathomable. This outrage, however, was absent from the
following two exemplars:

He used to talk to a woman on the phone. I could hear her voice and one time I
pushed redial, and she is the one who answered and I knew her voice because she
used to call when we were in Saudi Arabia asking questions. The first wife, she
had suspicions, "oh maybe he is married and he says no." He swore that he was
not and I always told him if you want to marry somebody else just like I married
you, like the first wife agreed, and she knew me and everything, the same, I do
not care. And she has money. She has these apaltments and these things and I do
not know. God knows, if he was using her. He is still married to her I guess using
her because she could help him. But it is not common for Muslims to use people,
but it happens there are some and I have had a bad deal.

Although the participant quoted above did not believe that her husband was required to
inform her of his marriage to a third wife it was clear that she did not agree and was
distressed by his dishonesty.
Despite her husband's neglect of her and their children, the participant in this next
exemplar did not express any anger toward her husband:

He went overseas ... I did not hear from him for months and I was really worried
because he had left us very little money, and I had borrowed money from my
father to finish the down payment on the house that he was buying as an
investment. And I could not imagine what had happened to him. And finally I
had a friend who was in Kuwait at the time. Her husband was working there and
this is how I got his number. And I called his number and he was not there.
Someone else answered, I think it was a nephew, someone I had never met
sounded funny and he said "I want you to call this number." So I called and my
husband answered and he was very angry at my calling and he said "how did you
get this number?" I said "well I called your number and you were not there and
they gave me this number but I have been really worried about you. I thought
maybe you were in prison or something because you have not answered my
letters and I wanted to let you know that I borrowed the money from my father
for your down payment on the house. That we do not have any money and what is
11

going on?" And he was just angry because I had called that number and I found
out later that that number was the number of his new wife.
The common theme of secrets and lies suggests that women were not involved or even
informed about these important marital decisions. While a spouse's dishonesty in a
monogamous relationship such as might occur in an extramarital affair is likewise
distressing, it does not carry with it the same connotations of a lifelong commitment.
Suffering

Participants who were in polygamous marriages described their situations as unhappy.


The stress of polygamy took its toll on these women resulting in significant emotional
distress:

I found out he had been lying to her. She thought he had been divorced for three
and a half years. He did, when I found out, try the polygamy route, telling me he
had been married to her. And that lasted six weeks and both women were
nervous wrecks.

The suffering in these accounts seemed to stem from a sense of betrayal, ofloss, and fear
of an uncertain future:

We are in the process of getting divorced now. Islamically we are but legally it
should be about another three weeks. But never had any physical abuse in that
marriage. I would say more verbal and emotional abuse. Because three years ago
my ex-husband decided to take another wife and she was non-Muslim and that
union lasted 27 months and that was a hard thing to deal with and I never want
to do it again ... this year he told me that her waiting period was over and that he
had divorced her and that her waiting period would be up in June so I thought
maybe there was a chance to rebuild our marriage I said "otherwise if you do not
think we can rebuild let's get divorced." I said "because I do not ever want to go
through this again." I said "I do not want another wife; I do not want to go
through that again." I let him know. I told him I said "I do not care if the
bridegroom has a billion dollars or will offer me five palaces or a fleet of luxury
cars, a private jet, I just do not want it. I just do not want it." I said "maybe for the
man it is a good thing to have two or three wives, but it is no fun for the woman."

While the participant quoted above felt that polygamy had its place in Islam, she
recognized that this practice was not for her. Indeed, she perceived polygamy in general
as not favorable to women. She made sense of this by interpreting polygamy as an
institution that men exploited ignoring "... the beauty that Allah intended." Because
according to mainstream interpretations Islam does allow polygamy, women in the
study had to make sense of their suffering by coming to terms with polygamy in the
12

context of their faith. They knew Islam allowed polygamy but they also knew that
religion required that it be practiced with complete justice. Participants viewed the
failure of husbands to be just toward wives as a personal failing on the part of husbands,
not as a cultural weakness.
Unjust Treatment
All of the participants whose narratives provided firsthand accounts of polygamy
described unjust treatment. Since equitable treatment of wives is a requirement of
polygamous practice in Islam, women were aware that unjust treatment was un-Islamic.
They perceived this injustice as a form of wife abuse.

Interviewer: How is he unfair?

Participant: Because he did more recreational activities with her. My things were
just like the mosque, maybe there was a lecture at the mosque we would go to
that.

While the participant quoted above complained of unfair treatment, so too did her co-
wife. In this particular case, the non-Muslim co-wife was required to work and support
herself while the first wife was not. Thus, both wives were unhappy for different reasons.
This difference in perception highlights the subjective nature of "fairness."

Feeling like she was "nobody" in her marriage, the participant in the next exemplar
made distinctions between what Islam taught and what had actually happened to her.
This distinction was important to her throughout her interviews for two reasons. First
she wanted to be sure that by sharing her abuse experiences she did not denigrate the
public image of Islam. Second, this distinction allowed her to remain comfortable with
mainstream Islamic interpretations while at the same time making sense of her abuse
expenences:

On my day I asked him to hang his thobes, like a long white thing they can wear
when they go out and then they wear like a t-shirt and pants, long pants,
underneath and then put this over. I said "hang this in my apartment" and he
said "oh I can't" ... None of his clothes or things were allowed in my apartment. It
was all in her apartment. Nothing was allowed to be in my apartment. Even when
he left the country, she knew he was leaving for good and I did not know it. There
was a comb or something and they came and got it from the bathroom. It was just
like I am nobody, which is not Islam, it is completely the opposite.

The next exemplar is the only one in which the idea of polygamy originated with the first
wife and not with her husband:
13

Kind of an acquaintance of mine whose husband had been abusive to her came to
live with us, and she kind of put in my mind that it would be a good situation
when you have two wives, so I suggested that to my husband, thinking great, then
he can be mean to two of us and he will spread it around a little bit. Well he
thought that was a great idea too, but during the interim he was very, very nice to
her, could not do enough for her and he spent most ofthe time talking with her,
slamming the door in my face. Well that was not what I had in mind. I had more
in mind of a big happy family so I was really upset. I was really unhappy. I told
this to my friend and she was gracious enough to leave. He then forbade me to
ever have anything to do with her.
The exemplar above illustrates how difficult it is to implement the idea of co-wives living
as allies. When favoritism is introduced unhappiness, jealousy, and competition are
common.
Co-Wife Abuse

Adding another wife adds complexity to the family structure. In cases where emotional,
physical, and/or sexual abuse is ongoing, co-wives sometimes became combatants. In
these cases, participants described abuse, not only from their husbands, but from their
co-wives also.

Interviewer: When you said there was some verbal and emotional abuse, can you
describe what that was?
Participant: Again back to the polygamy... He would want us to get together and it
always ended up like a big cat fight. Well last time you did this no last you did
that. And shouting and getting obscene and so that was a lot of the verbal abuse.
She and I had. We had a lot.

Interviewer: So it was more from her not from him?

Participant: More from her. More from her though.

The participant in the exemplar above described her interactions with her co-wife
(usually conversations related to scheduling time with the husband), as being like a "cat
fight." This participant perceived that her husband had put both wives in demeaning
positions and viewed this as a form of emotional abuse. She believed that it was her
husband's responsibility to be fair and negotiate time arrangements, not hers. After, all,
as she said, she had not asked her husband to take a second wife - she had accepted the
situation ",':ith a heavy heart.

In some instances the acrimony between wives leads to physical assault:


14

Participant: One night I fIxed dinner for him and his guests and then for the other
wife .. .! made dinner and everything and then we were going to pray. We were
sitting around together on the living room and then I went out of the room to
wash my hands or something and then I came back into the room and she turned
her face like laughing like she was making fun of me or something like that and I
said "go ahead and laugh." And when we were praying I started to cry. I had tears.
I could not stop. After that I had tears but I did not say anything. The other
people were not laughing it was just her. I felt bad you know what is she trying to
make fun of? She used to make little sarcastic remarks and things in front of me.

Interviewer: Was she the wife before you?


Participant: Yes.

Interviewer: But did she agree to the marriage?


Participant: Yes.

Interviewer: Maybe there was some resentment or something it sounds like.

Participant: But anyway whatever she did did not matter to me so much as how
he reacted. Because he was the one that was supposed to be fair. He is the one
that is supposed to be religious. I mean the leader of the family and he was the
one that was responsible. I did not marry her I married him and I expected him
to behave properly in Islam. And if she did something, okay, I was not going to
try to do anything to make him take away her rights. I did not want to show any
jealousy or anything. I wanted to be fair and not have any sin by trying to make
my husband be unjust to her or anything ... So he went to go because she had her
period so she did not have prayer so the boys and I prayed with the dad and then
tears were coming on my face and I could not stop. When the kids went he went
to say goodnight to her. It was his night to stay with me and I went and changed
my clothes and put a nightgown on ... so he came back there and we were sitting
and ... he said to me "you act as if we are your enemies".... I cried and then he said
"I am going out and I will sleep in one room and you sleep in the other room."
She came. She started saying things to me, pushing me, pulling at me, and she hit
me with her fIst here on the side. She hit me twice. He did not say anything to
her. He did not even say stop. He did not say anything back to her. It was very
bad like I was the one that did wrong.

This exemplar highlights the severity and complexity of the problems that can be
present between co-wives in polygamous marriages. Despite the fact that the offensive
behavior came from the co-wife this woman looked to her husband for a solution. Like
the woman in the preceding exemplar, this participant perceived that her husband was
15

responsible for managing relations between co-wives. This arrangement left women
completely dependent on husbands for problem-solving, in essence relying on
patriarchal justice to regulate their daily lives.

Intimate Partner Abuse in the Context of Polygamy


While co-wives sometimes abused each other, husbands were abusive in all polygamous
marriages described by participants. This was likely due to the purposive sampling that
selected primarily abused Muslim women for participation in the study. The following
are stories of emotional and physical abuse within polygamous marriages.

Participant: We had one brother perform the service here. Here in this house.
And which I was misinformed. He said that I had to be a witness which is the
most horrible thing I think a person can ever go through.

Interviewer: A brother told you that you had to witness your husband's wedding?

Participant: Yes and he was wrong. The three people who were here as witnesses
said "you know she did not have to be present." Because how am I supposed to
feel, hey this is the man I have been married to for 13 years, two weeks ago, bam
there is this woman at work. .. and I want to marry her? And then they are going
to get married in my house. Right here up in the front with the witnesses.
Introductions because my son's father introduced us all before the thing and her
father came... and her teenage children came. Because they wanted to meet the
woman was going to let her husband marry their mother. And the first question
was like "what country are you from? " And you know, I am an American. I am
from this country. My ancestors some four hundred years ago came from Africa,
but I was born and raised in America. And they could not believe that. They
thought I must be from another country.

This participant felt violated by having to witness her husband's marriage to a second
wife and by having this marriage take place in her own home. She never shared what
happened with her non-Muslim family (she was a convert) because she was ashamed
and embarrassed resulting in isolation and elimination of extended family supports. In
retrospect, she felt like going along with her husband's second marriage may have been
a mistake - that perhaps she should have asserted herself more. Still, her compliance
also comforted her in some ways. She felt that she had gone beyond what was
reasonable to try to save her marriage, in accordance with Muslim community
expectations.

In the next exemplar, the participant talks about how during an episode of abuse, she
ran to her co-wife for assistance. She did this despite their ongoing dislike for one
another. The co-wife did not intervene:
16

When we were downstairs he hit me with his fist right here in my eye and he hit
me on my arms with the other one like this. He said "I was not trying to hit you. I
was trying to hit the wall." But it was not it was me. He hit me first with his right
hand and then the left hand. Many times he clenched his fist. He had done this
many times before so that I was like intimidated. But that time he did hit me and
1 ran upstairs to the other wife and I said "he hit me in the eye" like this and I was
crying and the kids all heard. I had guests the next day and I put the scarf so it
did not show.
Unlike the exemplar above, the co-wives in the next exemplar did not appear to dislike
each other. Still they did not intervene when abuse occurred:
I went and stayed with my sister for a month. And every time her husband would
come either the house is not organized or something, or if a dish is broken he just
needed something to trigger him - very little things. And I remember they had an
old fashioned heater. Behind the heater he would have a stick waiting. And she
knew the minute he came home, both of the wives they would look at each other
and they would go to their rooms ... And he would hit my sister and hit her up to
the point where she would just like, you could hear like the bird, you would just
hear like a tiny noise coming out of her mouth. And when he would leave the
house I would come out and lift her head to see if she is okay or not.

The abuse experiences of participants within polygamous marriages occurred with the
knowledge of co-wives. Despite the presence of another adult in the household, the
violence of abusers progressed unchecked in polygamous marriages, indicating that co-
wives felt powerless or simply chose not to intervene.
Family Trauma

For the participants in this study, polygamy was often associated with secrets and lies,
suffering, abuse, and later divorce (in all cases of polygamy divorce was initiated by the
husband). All of these processes not only took their toll on wives but also on children.
This woman vividly recounted her father's attempt to marry a second wife:

My father was going to take a second wife and it was only my younger sister's
intervention, and she must have been about eleven, at the time, something
around there, speaking on my mother's behalf that the marriage did not take
place. And that was a big family trauma.

This influenced the participant in several ways. She reported that her mother had a
pattern of submissive behavior in response to her father's ongoing abuse. In this
instance, her mother relied on the children to intervene. Contempt for women was the
17

message that emerged during childhood, a message that this participant has actively
resisted during her adult life.

The next exemplar describes a mother's perception of how her husband's polygamous
second marriage affected their young son:
Participant: He set a date ... so I had two weeks. I said "are you sure you want to -
you know this is so quick" and he said "yes. I want to get married" and they got
married and the roller coaster started. It is just because I was used to having
someone here for so many years and then I had to get used to one day he is here
and one day he is not.

Interviewer: How did this affect your son?

Participant: He did not like it at all. He did not like it at all. He wished he was in
one place. He would wish his father did not have to go there. He could not
understand it and his father never really sat down and I had to tell him because
he would ask me "why does he have to go over there?" I said "well you know he
married her just like he married me, he married her." And it was kind of
confusing for him.

In the next exemplar polygamy provided an abuser with an excuse to consider child
marriage:

Participant: I actually divorced him when he tried to marry my sister who was my
ward. And she was thirteen. And he told me that... this would be really good
because my sister really liked him. But she liked him because, you know, it was
not a sexual or romantic thing.

Interviewer: she was a child.


Participant: She was a child, and he had been, you know, he had all the flash and
all the dazzle. So. But when he asked about marrying her, then I started to plot to
get rid of him. Because I knew then that I was never going to allow him to marry
my sister - to touch my sister.

Like abuse generally, polygamy and wife abuse had a strong detrimental impact on
children. The above exemplars suggest that polygamy may also introduce dynamics that
result in novel manifestations of child trauma.

Summaru and Conclusions

I have summarized the literature and explained my study to provide the Court with an
answer to the question of what are the emotional, psychological and social impacts of
the practice of polygamy on individuals. Because the majority of evidence available
18

pertains to women's health it seems appropriate to focus on this group. The mental
health impacts on Muslim women in polygamous marriages generally include a
significantly greater frequency and severity of a variety of psychiatric symptoms,
decreased marital satisfaction, and lower self-esteem and life satisfaction compared to
women in monogamous marriages. Clinical cases from North America suggest that
depressive and anxiety symptoms may also be commonly associated with polygamy as it
is practiced here. Given that depression is the leading cause of disability (as measured
by years lived with disability) and the fourth leading contribute to the burden of disease
worldwide, and given the co-morbidities associated with anxiety disorders, these are not
minor effects.44, 45 The impact of maternal depression on child outcomes worldwide
should also be considered when examining the harms associated with polygamous
practice. 46
The literature, clinical cases, and available qualitative evidence provide insight into the
reasons why these harms may occur. Polygamy is highly stigmatized in North American
dominant culture - a stigma that may also exist within Muslim communities. It is
reasonable to speculate that this stigma places women at risk for poorer self-esteem and
greater social isolation among women living in polygamous Muslim families. This is
significant since a woman's self appraisal and ability to seek help and support from
others can mean the difference between life and death in instances of domestic violence.
Other risks include the potential to increase the number of perpetrators of abuse within
families and the potential for higher levels of family stress associated with the
complexity of polygamous family structures. Moreover, lack of extended family supports
and the "self-policing" nature of patriarchal justice make it difficult for women to
effectively address these health risks.

Dena Hassouneh
19

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