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Gloriavale

A new documentary looks at role of women in the Gloriavale community

“The Gloriavale community on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island has been described as a cult that is more sinister than the idyllic location would lead you to believe. Beyond the rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains is a very uniformed and regimented Christian community. It is isolated and secular and the 500 members have very little contact with the outside world. Members say they don’t want to associate themselves with the evil, adultery, drug use and fornication that the outside world engages in… A new documentary, Gloriavale: A Woman’s Place, has explored life inside the community and how being a wife is the top job for a woman. Dove Love, 22, features in the documentary and she is longing to get married. She has been doing the washing for everybody in the community and she’s ready to be promoted to the role of a wife, where she is required to submit herself to her husband… Once a couple is married, and a woman vows to submit while the man vows to be the leader, they embrace for a number of minutes. They are then carried to a ‘consummation room’ immediately where they are expected to lose their virginities… Members of Gloriavale don’t get many choices—they are told what to wear and where to work. Marriages are arranged when members are as young as 12, and Gloriavale leader Neville Cooper believes that’s the age a girl becomes a woman… A lot of controversy surrounded the community when Cooper, who changed his name to Hopeful Christian, was jailed on sexual abuse charges in 1995. His son and a young woman fled the community and testified against Cooper. Those who leave the community are shunned, and they can’t contact those who remain part of the community.” (News.com.au, 08/06/16) [IT 8.1]