Pitcairn and Imperialist Hypocrisy

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Disclaimer: As a Socialist, I believe that the capitalist system is the fertile ground for all kinds of hideous, perverted and inhuman activity, and that for human beings to ‘evolve’ out of this cesspit of greed and corruption, human society should ‘transform’ into a Socialist society and sweep away the old and the redundant modes of deficient existence. I believe that patriarchy and misogyny are terrible enslavers of girls and women – and that Marxist-Leninist Feminism is the way ahead to free all girls and women from this outrageous oppression. Having said this, I am not necessarily stating that the Pitcairn Islanders are guilty (or not guilty) of sexual offences (although those accused were found ‘guilty’ in a British curt of law), but I am saying that the British Mainland Authorities are guilty of racism and imperialism – irrespective as to whether what some of the women have to say is correct or not. What I represent below, is a brief analysis of the dialectical inconsistencies that permeates Tony Blair’s attitude toward the indigenous Pitcairn people. What is for sure, whether living within a capitalist or a Socialist society, the vulnerable must be legally ‘protected’ from those who would abuse them. 

In 2004, the Mainland British Authorities decided to prosecute a number of indigenous Pitcairn men for ‘raping’ under-age girl (defined as ’16 years of age’ under current Mainland British Law). The Pitcairn Islanders are today a multiracial mixture of ‘White’ British sailors, and Polynesian people. However, the people of Pitcairn claimed that they live by ‘natural’ Polynesian Law which does not recognise the current Mainland British Law. The history of the Mainland British Law is as follows:

Prior to 1275, there was no legal concept as an ‘Age of Consent’ in English Law. However, in 1275, the first age of consent was established in England, being set as 12 years of age (Westminster 1 statute). In 1875, the Offences Against the Person Act raised the age of consent to 13 years of age in Great Britain and Ireland, and ten years later the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 raised the age of consent to 16 years of age.

The Mutiny on the Bounty occurred in 1789 – during this time – the age of consent in England was 12 years old. This is the law that the rebelling British sailors at the time would have known and been familiar with. An age of consent of 12 years correlates with the Polynesian tradition (still prevalent today), of a young woman being considered culturally ready for sexual relations when menstruation begins. This means that when the colony of Pitcairn was originally established (outside of direct British colonial rule), the English law and Polynesian law regarding this matter, coincided. As a consequence, indigenous Pitcairn Islanders do not recognise the subsequent changes in Mainland British law that happened in 1875 and 1885. Moreover, it was not uncommon during the years of the British empire for British Colonial Authorities to follow convenient ‘local’ laws and regulations that made it easier to govern the various enslaved and oppressed non-European peoples. Of course, the ‘rape’ and ‘sexual abuse’ of men, women and children was rife throughout British colonies – perpetuated by the members of the British occupying forces.

The situation in Pitcairn appears to have been the product of the extreme ‘zealousness’ exhibited by the then rightwing British Government of Tony Blair’s New Labour Party. What is interesting is that even the local ‘British’ Authorities in the area (often based in New Zealand), acknowledge that in Pitcairn there is a recognised historical legal precedent of ‘consensual’ under-age sexual activity practised amongst the indigenous population. However, from the Pitcairn point of view, there is no recognised legal concept of ‘under-age sex’ with regard to teenagers aged 13 years and upwards – although it is acknowledged under Pitcairn law that sexual activity with a person under 12 years of age is illegal. In the meantime, there has been allegations of institutional racism perpetuated by the British Labour Party in the handling of this bizarre situation, as the age of consent varies markedly not only across European countries, but also across the world.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_consent_reform_in_the_United_Kingdom

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