from The Essential Paradise
Sexual conduct and the law, in Paradise Edit
Paradise concepts of physical obscenity are represented in a series of fluid documents commonly known as the Decency Codes, defined and defended by the Territorial Ministry of Justice. The guiding principle is one of ‘lewdness versus prudence’ and tends to be applied and resolved on a case-by-case basis. In a territory with a widespread tolerance for partial and full nudity in public areas, and with a relatively low age of sexual and social majority (15 years for most legal thresholds), the definition of what is and is not legally considered as ‘lewd’ becomes a vital one.
Anyone apparently past puberty may be charged with adult-degree lewdness. Allegations of lewdness may apply to situations involving both sexes, all age groups and all public areas or areas adjacent to and accessible by the public.
It should be noted that incidents of deliberate public lewdness are rare, most commonly down to tourists. Most are resolved by the supervising police constabulary who may chastise the violator and require an apology at the scene of the offence with no further actions pursued. Whilst minor offences may be summarily discharged, others will require an appearance before court and some judicially-applied penalty. With tourists the most expedient recourse is often a steep monetary fine and, when serious, summary expulsion from the territory. Fines are ascribed according to a sliding scale that takes into account the severity, frequency and damages pertinent to the case.
Circumstances of conviction Edit
In Paradise the typical island gaol is small but generally pleasant, though hot and confined, and will not be occupied very often nor for very long. For serious felonies, especially those of a violent nature, the convicted non-belonger is most often transported to Britain to serve imprisonment there; as such, conviction automatically entails some difficulty in reestablishing residence in the islands when the term of the sentence is fulfilled. Given such a small and isolated territory, a convicted belonger can become generally known and recognised throughout most of Paradise in a relatively short time; and social censure in itself is sometimes an appropriate punishment especially for nonviolent lewdness violations. Fortunately for those seeking a new start, ample opportunities exist for relocation abroad (albeit with onerous consequences should the non-belonger seek to reestablish residence in the islands) and, upon completion of court-ordered sentencing, which for most lewdness offences will consist primarily of court-ordered probation or work-release duty, the news of one’s rehabilitation can be just as effectively blazed.
Within the territory are also counselling and psychological programmes designed to assist erstwhile offenders to manage their prior tendencies and problematic behaviours; and in cases of lewdness offences the offender is often assigned to report to such clinicians or, in more serious cases, to be admitted into a more controlled facility for comprehensive treatment.
A. Nudity Edit
Nudity, by itself, is not expressly prohibited anywhere by statute. The law considers etiquette and decorum (such as through the Dress Codes) sufficient to determine the appropriateness of various states of dress for prevailing, reasonably-expected or imminent social conditions.
The following principles are applied as criteria for judging each individual case:
1. The actor shall err toward prudence, respect for others, and decorum. Edit
This is consistently interpreted as requiring a nude subject ‘to have direct access to attire appropriate for adjacent or imminent social conditions, within reasonable expectation, in which attributions of lewdness may be expected.’ Further, frequent judicial findings have concluded that ‘nudity is to be contained within reasonable bounds with respect to prevailing social situations.’
2. The actor shall not, in practice, combine simple nudity with lewd behaviour. Edit
This is consistently interpreted as differentiating the behaviour of a subject who just happens to be unclothed from that of a subject who is engaging in lewd acts for which nudity is an apparent or de facto prerequisite. The incidence of an adult sunbathing nude adjacent to a public beach shall not be confused with that of an adult in a public area who has undressed to perform some sexual act, or, having undressed ostensibly to sunbathe, subsequently indulges in some sexual act whilst nude.
Thus, nudity becomes a factor of social factors, not statutory ones.
Some conclusions of real cases: Edit
- The case of a 13-year nude girl, having no alternative attire at hand, unexpectedly encountering two adult tourists, at 21.30, on a quiet weekday evening during high season, between her own home and a friend’s home within one purely-residential block, is nudity ‘reasonably contained’.
- The case of a 26-year-old nude female, with clothes carried in a bag at hand, not part of but willingly approaching, without pressing need, a barbecue party at which a number of 10- to 12-year-old boys are conspicuously present, in a public park, in midafternoon, is ‘lewdness’.
- The case of a 40-year-old nude male tourist, having no alternative attire at hand, unexpectedly encountering several adolescent girls on a remote beach during midday, in high season, and attending his appearance with an apology and a prompt withdrawal from proximity, is nudity ‘reasonably contained’.
- The case of an adult nude male tourist, having clothes carried in hand, willingly, without pressing need, approaching a group of 10- to 14-year-old female patrons at a beach kiosk, in midday, at high season, and attempting to make personal conversation with only them whilst closing to ‘close proximity’, is ‘lewdness’.
- The case of nude male above the age of 15, having clothes carried in hand, strolling alone through a churchyard and encountering the singing congregation’s Palm Sunday morning procession about the adjacent church, is ‘lewdness’.
In short, any situation in which genitalia are willingly exhibited as though to surprise, impress or disarm others in a social situation in which such might not reasonably be expected will fulfill the legal interpretation of ‘lewdness’.
Conditions on public nudity Edit
- Nudity shall be considered a prerogative of the subject. It must be voluntary; and subject must be conscious and capable of determining his or her own actions.
- Nudity may not be coerced, compelled, pursued for payment, or forced, physically or psychologically, upon others.
- Nudity is not a right. Nudity may not be imposed on any social situation against others’ right to not have it. Thus, public nudity shall be contained within reasonable bounds.
- The subject shall err on the side of decorum, safety and common sense.
- A basic premise of all Paradisian law and social code is that the individual shall accept responsibility for his own actions and all reasonably-foreseeable consequences, for better or for worse.
As a general rule, a woman, apparently past puberty, baring only breasts in public is not, in itself, classified as either ‘lewdness’ or ‘nudity’; but the clause of B.2 (below), requiring that women shall err on the side of decorum, shall prevail.
In spite of accusations from both sexes about the inherent sexism in such a policy, the law does seem to restrict male nudity more than it does female nudity, mainly in the context of sexual provocation. This is based on several principles:
- Inherent in all Paradise legal code is an implied respect for the island environment, including the social and metaphysical aspects thereof, especially those considered to be fragile and vulnerable to abuse by excessive force or influence by human beings. Within this principle is the protection of women, and children, from abuse and exploitation, especially when in their ‘natural state’.
- Women are expected in the first incidence to err towards modesty and decency in their behaviour; thus, a woman is not automatically considered to be making a lewd statement merely by virtue of being unclothed.
- An aroused male, clothed, presents a greater immediate threat to a passive nude female than does an aroused female, clothed, to a passive nude male.
- Public displays of an erect penis are consistently classified as ‘lewdness’. Some such incidents have been mitigated by demonstrating lack of intent and inadvertence.
- No-one will dare to measure a woman’s erect nipples or vaginal dilation to prove physical arousal. However, wilful public displays of an open vagina (i.e., parted labia) are consistently classified as ‘lewdness’; and see 1., above.
- Public display of outer female genitalia concurrent with conspicuous menstruation is consistently classified as ‘lewdness’. This falls under the same statute banning public defecation, as does unconfined public ejaculation.
No nude female of any age may be taken into police custody by male police representatives alone, beyond nominal restraint, without physical contact, on site, unless she poses some clear, immediate physical threat to the officer(s) or to the public. Female officers are to be summoned, if not immediately available, from the moment it is known that female subjects are involved.
C. Behaviour of a sexual nature Edit
The premise of sexual relations within Paradise is a broadly-defined concept. In general behaviours considered to be of a sexual content include:
- The display or exchange of pornographic or prurient materials including photographs, of a sexual nature, of one’s self;
- The use of prurient or obscene language, gestures, or innuendo;
- Physical suggestiveness or bodily contact, such as fondling;
- Actual sexual copulation, ejaculation, or penetration, including digitally, of bodily orifices.
Sexual misconduct Edit
As a rule, any of the above behaviours shall be defined as ‘sexual misconduct’ and, when knowingly performed in public or in spite of being unwelcome by one party, shall be classified under public lewdness.
Paradisian law defines rape as ‘any instance of ejaculation on, or penetration, including digitally, of bodily orifices of, an unwilling subject, meant to be sexual in nature, by use of physical, emotional, social, or psychological persuasion, coercion, or force.’ This is classified as ‘sexual assault’ and is prosecuted as a felony.
Molestation is defined as any attempt at sexual involvement with an unwilling subject, whether meant to be rape or not, especially when attended by persuasion, coercion, or force. This is classified as ‘sexual assault’ and is generally prosecuted as a felony. Undressing or causing to undress an unwilling subject through the use of persuasion, coercion, or force may be classified as ‘molestation’ and/or ‘assault’, according to degree; in the latter case it is generally prosecuted as a felony.
Under Paradisian law, an actor may commit sexual harassment though any attempt to engage, discompose, or intimidate an unwilling subject by means of speaking or making gestures, including the establishment of physical proximity, when such include sexual imagery, terms, proposals, or threats. In numerous cases, one's making of unwelcome comments about another's appearance have been prosecuted as harassment. Unfortunately, many tourists mistake the low age of consent in Paradise as licence to proposition young people who, because of laws at home, would be off-limits to those tourists there.
Simple harassment is generally prosecuted as misdemeanour though penalties, especially in fines and in orders of restraint, may seem severe, most commonly in cases involving tourists.
D. Statutory sexual misconduct Edit
As ‘statutory’, the offence is defined by the parameters of law and consistent judicial findings rather than the will of the actors involved. Cases involving those under the formal age of consent are generally classified as statutory offences.
One mitigating condition of statutory cases is the ‘two-year rule’, a factor resulting from the low age of consent (15 years, in cases involving sexual activity) in the territory. Though having no full force of law, the ‘two-year-rule’ is applied in those incidences when one actor is 15 or older and one younger, meant to weigh the appropriateness of the relationship in question with regard to statutory limits. For application as mitigation in a defence case the rule implies the following:
- The age difference between the two actors should be reasonable with regard to the nature of the relationship and/or the offences ascribed to the elder;
- The younger actor must be apparently, functionally and/or de facto past puberty;
- The case does not contain further elements that would suggest ‘lewdness’, ‘misconduct’, ‘molestation’ or ‘assault’.
In general the age difference between the actors is expected to not exceed 24 months; but in some cases this has been mitigated by factors of reasonableness. For example, the relationship of a couple having a 25-month age difference when the younger is aged 13 years might have an entirely different character from the relationship of a couple having an age difference of 35 months when the younger is aged 14-1/2 years; and this type of determinant shall be taken into consideration.
When such elements exist to support a case of ‘lewdness’, ‘misconduct’, ‘molestation’ or ‘assault’, the case shall proceed as one of adult character, except that the further offence of ‘statutory misconduct’ may be coapplied.
Behaviour of a sexual nature is prohibited between family members between whom exists a consanguinity factor of greater than 25% (first cousins). In all other cases the degree of familiar relationship shall not be a consideration in determining the nature of the misconduct.
A charge of statutory incest shall apply when an actor is in a de facto or legally-determined role as a family member towards one with whom a consanguinity factor would be greater than 25%, such as that of an uncle, aunt, parent, sibling, child, and others.
Sexual misconduct between children Edit
No statute expressly criminalises sexual conduct between those under 12 years of age, providing that neither is apparently, functionally and/or de facto past puberty. In cases of attendant violence or molestation but barring other factors, the case may proceed as one of a nonsexual character, typically through counselling.
Examples from the texts Edit
Lord Jonathan and Gwendolyn Dahl are separated by forty-six months of age (18 June 1980 to 28 March 1984). Their relationship, of a sexual character and by consent, since their first meeting, whilst deliberately kept secret, probably remains so because of, and not in spite of, the unique liberties that come from Lord Jonathan's family prestige and title; any prosecution attempt, whilst statutorially valid, would encounter numerous legal and political pitfalls. Their story is told in the Love of Gwendolyn Dahl story arc (P2).
Charlie Richardson and Janine Hewlett, who are in a de facto sexual relationship after January 2001, are separated by forty months in age (26 January 1985 to 19 June 1988). By the time of their engagement, when she is 14 years 8 months old and he just 18 years old, they have been so well accepted as a well-adjusted, respectable couple that no-one but her mother ever questions their level of intimate involvement; in effect they have dodged this suspicion till it no longer matters. Their story is told in the Janine, of Paradise story arc (P2).
In neither of these cases does the actors' intimacy contain any further aggravating factors nor is it conducted with other than both actors' full cognizance and consent.
E. Behaviour of a homosexual nature Edit
In Paradise, behaviour of a homosexual nature is consistently upheld by law-enforcement authorities and judicial conclusions not as a ‘sexual orientation’, as though essentially a constant, but as a category of sexual behaviour. This premise discounts the argument that one’s chosen behaviour is not beyond one’s own conscious decisions and therefore shall be consistently subject to reasonable and relevant legal and social consequences.
Sodomy, fellatio and cunnilingus are generally classified as ‘lewdness’ under health, sanitation, and morality codes; but of themselves these are generally not prosecuted in cases of consenting adults within private bounds. Those under age 15, engaged in such behaviours, are usually formally chastised as with other sexual behaviour; and statutory considerations apply.
Prevailing social standards rely upon the complementary or corresponding nature of gender relationships and sexual polarity. Consistent with the earlier Polynesian culture, homosexuality between men is generally disdained by modern Paradisians; and statistics of noncompliance cannot be regarded as accurate since most such relationships remain unreported.
Amongst adolescents (aged 12-18 years) homosexual behaviour does appear to be more prevalent between consenting girls than between consenting boys. Sociological reasons for this may include:
- Gender identification and social expectations, by which females are expected to be emotional, nurturing, affectionate, dependent and sympathetic whilst males are expected to be reasonable, protective, stoic, outgoing and autonomous. Teenaged boys thus channel unused energy into work, sport, education and other ‘public’ pursuits and by age 20 may achieve accolades worthy of elevated esteem from females, from each other and from older men who can train, recommend and promote them further. Such advancement opportunities might not be so forthcoming for one known to be gay and who is unlikely to marry, produce offspring and contribute to the strong, albeit conservative, image of their employers and communities.
- Lewdness and nudity policies, which stress restraint and self-control for males whilst allowing freedom and self-expression for females. Males are expected to eschew public displays of feelings, emotion and arousal whilst females are regarded as potential temptresses or distractions, to be tolerated without being indulged or availed-of.
- Differing outlets for sexual experimentation amongst the young. Whilst girls may find opportunities for intimate exploration in private, boys, expected to be more outward, are pressed earlier into the public sphere of sports, work, and community and thus are de facto denied the equivalent chances for shared experimentation in private.
Underaged lesbian activity Edit
As evident by formal complaints and judicial proceedings, one lewdness offence which never seems to be prosecuted is that of sexual involvement between mutually-consenting females, especially those under 15, even when attended by a case of public nudity; and charges are rarely pursued, except in cases when the responding police representatives’ authority is questioned, as, in a documented case in which the subjects, once identified, fled apprehension. Apparently no-one is willing to inspect fingers, tongues and/or genitalia for evidence. When no arrest is to be made, names are nearly never taken. The usual report in such cases is one of ‘apparent lewdness between consenting females of ages X and X’. However the activity itself is not at all rare in the territory.
Examples from the texts Edit
The Paradise Two novel The Seduction of Susie initiates the Lady Susie-based story arc in which the 15-year-old principal character experiments with sexual relationships with other females, aged 13 through mid-20s. Beyond about halfway through the novel, and throughout the subsequent episodes (including the novels Girls Will Be Girls, The Goddess and The Princess, and A Global Awakening, most of the initiative is taken by Lady Susie, at times without others' consent. At no time do any of these relationships attract the notice or interest of law enforcement officials; and so all of Lady Susie's sexual activity of a lesbian nature is unreported.
Darby St Claire, herself a major character (and instigator) in The Seduction of Susie, establishes a reputation for herself as a lesbian mixer, noted for introducing young women to each other and for encouraging relationships, not always limited to girls over 15 and not always with both parties' consent. Being over 15, she is responsible, though never apprehended, for the seductions of at least half a dozen other substantive characters within of the Paradise Two realm, including Lady Susie and Amelia Townsend.
As a vestige of their past experiences as kept concubines of their mother's live-in lover, sisters Melissa and Carissa Flagg of the Kissing Cousins story arc engage in statutory underaged sexual activity, of a lesbian and incestuous nature, together (comprising incest) that is never recognised by law enforcement officials.
Hypothesised reasons for stable and conservative quality of sexually-based behaviour in Paradise Edit
In general, a traditional concept of sexual propriety in Paradise tends to be de rigueur, the expected, accepted and respected default in social behaviour. As a people Paradisians are not without their individual transgressions; but in the main these are kept as only personal and private and not pursued, promoted or put on display. Thus the islands have gained a reputation for being staunchly British, Christian and conservative, a conception that, if not accurate in every part, is considered worth serving and preserving by virtue of its merits. Young people are expected and encouraged to do their bit and to further the very best of Paradise as though players on a sports team; and the result is that most islanders truly respect the patriotic image of their territory as ‘a little slice of heaven’. Failure to live up to this lofty and rather narrow ideal is a common dread amongst young people; and though few are judgemental of those who struggle most do take a noble sense of pride in having succeeded themselves.
Reasons for this surprisingly-successful utopia of virtue vary and have already merited extensive sociological study. Contributing factors consistently include:
- Social ideals of female chastity and premarital virginity; by which overt displays of promiscuity and sexuality are considered unappealing and unacceptable. In fact, the incidence of a marriage imposed early by pregnancy is remarkably low. Less than 6% of all first marriages involving a woman under the age of 21 involve a premarital pregnancy; and the number decreases as the bride’s age increases. This may be due to the great reverence with which Paradisians regard the traditional ‘white wedding’, a major event in most communities of the territory involving a parade about town and lavish public announcements in the media, akin in many respects to a graduation to adulthood as from a four-year university; and few young Paradisians will willingly forego a chance at their day in the community’s universal good favour.
- A dearth of bona-fide career opportunities in a small, isolated and self-sufficient society which can support only a limited market of viable employes. Thus for females the marrying age is young; over eighty percent of Paradisian-born women marry between ages 17 and 24 whilst at the same ages males become rather securely ensconced in a favourable career. Young men showing dedication to a career path and to a particular employer are universally admired; and job turnover-- as with the frequency of divorce-- appears to be low. Even in the face of low-to-moderate wages, as compared to other territories of the Western world, employment stasis and modest opportunities for advancement are balanced by comprehensive public health benefits, excellent schools and the unparallelled benefit of spending the core of one’s life in a pleasant tropical-island Eden known as Paradise.
- Social dread of sexually-transmitted diseases, from which the territory, for a turn-of-millennium populace, especially one noted for a certain diffuse liberality, remains surprisingly pure. The scarcity of HIV and other maladies is generally accepted to be due to the strict social codes concerning sexual propriety and the islanders’ deliberate isolation from tourists, foreigners and other more liberal cultures. In general Paradisians, having a rather limited genetic and social pool, dread the imposition of any such epidemics and tend to err on the side of prudence, safety and, thus, decorum out of mere health and safety concerns.
- Tropical climate, and the influence of the former Polynesian culture, by which nudity alone was not a basis for sexual context and in which children up to and through puberty were often unclothed as a matter of course. The physically-comfortable Paradisian environment allows clothing to be superfluous; and despite firm dress codes in schools many young people develop a habit of casting off all clothing the moment they return home. To find friends at home in an unclothed state is not uncommon and little if any stigma is attached to those who keep such habits. Attaching a purely sexual connotation to another’s state of undress would be inappropriately limiting, on many levels, under the circumstances.
- Influence of Church teaching, ethics and etiquette lessons in school, values prescription in society, traditionally-stable family life, and other conservative principles, which cultivate like behaviour and similar social and moral choices amongst young people. From an early age Paradisian children are taught moral maxims, comprising prohibitions against mistreating others, against thievery and deceit, and against devaluing or desecrating the fragile physical environment. Inherent in such teachings is the concept that each person has a right to his own decisions, so long as one keeps in mind that all choices have logical and natural consequences. Small children do not sniggle at the sight of another in underwear, for example, and will play naked in paddling pools or on beaches regardless of the companions’ sex. Through adolescence and maturation such prescriptive sensibilities serve as the basis for more informed, independent and responsible attitudes about what is and is not appropriate under given circumstances. If anything the typical unmarried Paradisian is more likely to behave gently, modestly, even reservedly, as a lady or gentleman towards the opposite sex rather than to be excessively obsessed with and aroused by visual stimuli and outward appearances, especially those of bare or nearly-bare human bodies.
- Cultural support for, and traditions of, isolation between tourists and local belongers. The typical Paradisian belonger wants little to do with the throngs of tourists who invade the territory during the high seasons, if it is not to make some income from them. Whilst the young Paradisian may cherish American, European, or Asian art, music, film and television, and consumer products, it is far less likely that he or she will embrace foreign ideals about morality, religion, politics, environmental policy, and gender relations. Such influences are generally considered undesirable if not, as taught by parents and even schools, entirely taboo. The Paradisian, both young and old, is staunchly proud of his own territory’s contributions to its own lifestyle and lookout and will resist persuasion by off-islanders to change what he believes is best for himself and all concerned. Even amongst those who go out of the territory for higher education, most make some effort to return and, once home, resume their participation in and respect for the Paradisian way of life. So, even in a society dependent, in some part, upon tourism, off-island notions have little appeal amongst the islanders.
Whilst as original, creative and unique as the next individual, the typical Paradisian is nonetheless attracted to pursuing a modest and humble life with God, family, community, country and environment as its core ingredients. Being such a small, interdependent and isolated society, Paradise rather requires of each member a conscious, devoted and material contribution to its own preservation; and such would not be effected without some degree of self-sacrifice and altruism. At the core is the attitude towards interpersonal relations; and so the Paradisian tends more to respect than to ignore, to protect than to molest, to nurture and support than to claim advantage.
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