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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 82

Legal Suggestions

Legal Suggestions.

No. I.—My first proposition is to amend clause 65 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, 39 and 40, Victoria, No. 38, 1876. The clause reads—"Whosoever shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any girl, being above the age of twelve and under the age of thirteen years, whether with or without her consent, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, being convicted thereof, shall be liable to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding seven years, with hard labor, and may be whipped."

Now, I have read, that the Code Napoleon protects the female till twenty-one years of age. Mr. Hardman, Chairman of the Surrey Quarter Sessions, in his evidence before the House of Lords' Committee, page 92, said that "he thought that the power of consent ought to be taken away from young girls up to a much greater age than thirteen, the present limit." The London Committee for the exposure and suppression of the Traffic in English girls for the purposes of Continental Prostitution, by their Chairman, Mr. B. Scott, Chamberlain of London, suggested in writing to the Lords' Committee that it should be a misdemeanor to seduce any child under the age of twenty-one years. (Vide Report, page 69.) They further suggested to make it a miedemeanor to act indecently to any child under twenty-one years of age, in any way that, if page 6 attempted towards a woman and resisted, would be an indecent assault. They proposed this upon this principle—a principle which I am bound to say cannot be gainsaid with justice—Protect person as much at any rate as property. Person is at least as precious as property. Now a statute, they go on to say, was recently passed to protect young men from liabilities and debts contracted while under twenty-one, and even from ratifying after they have become 21, contracts made before they became twenty-one. (Vide Hansard, CCIX., 1225, 1868.) Their argument is, "You very properly protect young men from sharpers who would defraud them of their property; now, protect young women from villains who would defraud them of their honor."

Now, I believe that we should have as our aim to reach the age of twenty-one years, but I should oppose going so far at the present time; it is too great a leap—I venture to propose seventeen as a just middle course. I should like it to be eighteen, so that the clause would read—" Whosoever shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any girl being above the age of twelve, and under the age of seventeen years, whether with or without her consent, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, being convicted, &c."

The effects of this amendment, if firmly worked, would be a very material reduction of juvenile seductions, and they form a considerable proportion of the whole. Prostitutes under the age of seventeen could not exist, as no man would dare lie with one; and as seduction under seventeen would practically cease, one of the chief sources of new prostitutes would be abolished. It appears to me impossible that any person who desires to rid society of disease and degradation, and who would do even-handed justice to women, can possibly object to raise the age of consent to seventeen years.

The Committee of the House of Lords for the better protection of young girls, has recommonded that the age be raised to sixteen years, and the Imperial Government has introduced a Bill to make this and other recommendations law.

No. II.—Is but a deduction and legitimate corollary of the first, and I cannot do better than use the phraseology of the London Committee :—"Make it a misdemeanor to act indecently towards any child under seventeen years of age, with or without her consent, in any way that if attempted towards a woman of full age, and resisted, would be an indecent assault."

Protection from indecent assault is an effectual shield against seduction and from juvenile prostitution, as it would prevent a collusive defence that there was no carnal lying together, but simply indecent conduct which did not reach that length.

No. III.—Make the seduction of a female by the master in page 7 whose employ she is in any capacity—for example, such as a domestic servant, a governess, a milliner, or shopwoman; make the seduction of such by the master a misdemeanor, if the girl be under the age of twenty-one years.

It is a grievous wrong for a master, who is virtually entrusted by parents and guardians with the care and guardianship of young girls, to use that power and prestige which belongs to his position to lead those young girls to ruin. Such conduct is a grievous wrong to society, and has as much criminality in it as forgery, to say the least; and yet this is a wrong for which at present there is no remedy if the servant be over thirteen. It is then not a criminal offence; and as the parents of the girl are not in the actual enjoyment of her services, they cannot even maintain a civil action against the seducer.

Gentlemen, seduction by a master is not uncommon, as all those who have to deal with such matters know. The annual report of the Society for the Protection of Women and Children for June last (Vide Sentinel, July, 1851, page 22) says—"This Society has rendered assistance to young females, many of them of tender years, who have been ruined by their heartless seducers. In many cases the poor victim happened to be a member of the same household as the seducer; indeed, often has it been the case that the master himself has been the vile seducer. . . Servant girls have often been hired expressly that they may he seduced." Logan, in his work on the Social Evil, in the Chapter on Prostitution and its Causes, says—" Not a few, I am sorry to add, who were excellent servants in respectable families have been seduced by sous; yea, sometimes by vile masters."

As seduction by a master is a grievous crime against society, I suggest to make it a misdomeanor, if the seduced female be over seventeen and below twentyone years of age.

No. IV.—Give power to the jury, where a man is indicted for rape upon a girl under seventeen years of age, and he is acquitted of the charge of rape, to find him guilty of seduction, if the evidence shall warrant such finding.

No. V.—Give power to magistrates to issue search warrants for children or wards, supposed to be concealed anywhere for immoral purposes.

At present, in England and in New South Wales, and, so far as I can discover, in South Australia, a parent or guardian knowing, but not possessing legal evidence, that his daughter is concealed in a brothel, has no legal means of recovering her. Two instances of very distressing character are known to myself of mothers being baffled by brothel-keepers in their efforts to recover their daughters for the lack of this power.

No. VI.—Enable any woman seduced by means of fraud or false pretence to maintain an action for damages against her page 8 seducer, in her own name if of age, and by her parent or legal guardian if a minor.

It is a maximum of existing law that an action for seduction must be an action for the loss of the woman's services, and there are consequently many gross cases of seduction where no action will lie, and the seducer escapes all punishment. Abolish the restriction to loss of service; let the woman or guardian sue for all the damage done.

Gentlemen, observe that the right of the erring woman to damages is to depend upon proof of fraud and false pretence. If the woman has wilfully erred she gets nothing, and may be cast in heavy expenses. But I would not allow a minor to be sued for damages who was under the age of seventeen years, though he did seduce a woman by fraud or false pretences, not even if entitled to considerable estate on attaining his majority. Protection should extend to the youth of both sexes.

No. VII.—I would make all men legally proved to be the fathers of illegitimate children, responsible for reasonable expenses of the mother's confinement, both for nursing and medical attendance. I would give the mother, or the doctor, or the nurse, or the officials of any public institution where the mother is confined, power to sue and recover the same, by the ordinary processes of recovering debts at law. Why should fornicators and adulterers saddle the public chest or private philanthropy with the consequent expenses of their lust?

No. VIII.—I would make the effect of an affiliation order be to impose upon the father the full duties and responsibilities of a parent, so far as possible. For example, I would make him responsible for reasonable medical attendance for his child, and answerable if that child be medically neglected, in the same way and degree that a married father is. I would make the father responsible under the Compulsory Education clauses. And if illegitmate children are placed in charge of public boards or institutions, the father shall, if able, be made to pay the full cost of maintenance, healing, and education. If men will inflict illegitimate children on the community, let them pay for it, as married men have to pay for legitimate. But I would not have the affiliation order carry all these consequences if the father (and while the father) is under twentyone years of age.

No. IX.—Where there is legal proof that a man over the age of seventeen has seduced more than two women of any age, he shall be liable to be indicted for misdemeanor, and shall be liable to two years' imprisonment; and if there be legal proof that he has seduced more than five women of any age, he may be flogged.

Gentlemen, there is need of this law, for there are men who glory in their shame, and actually glorify themselves in the num- page 9 ber of women they have led astray. I knew a young man who had three girls in the family-way by him at one time. I knew of another, a lawyer's clerk, who had children by seven girls within two or three years. I knew a man who had seduced a girl every few months for many years; I dare to say for twenty years. Now, none of these persons reside, or to the best of my knowledge have resided, in South Australia : hence I allude to no one in this colony; but these men are found all over the empire; and I maintain that such conduct is a crime of the deepest dye, and that the community which does not punish it severely does not do justice. No plea of natural passions can excuse a man in the seduction of many women.

No. X.—Make it a misdemeanor to decoy, take, or cause to be taken, any female of any age, whether possessed of property or not, and whether under the care, apparent or not, of parents or guardians, to go abroad or to another colony for the purpose of prostitution.

The need of such a law has become very apparent from the exposure of the system of decoy and traffic in English girls for the brothels of the continent, especially those of Brussels.

When the existence of numerous agents in London as procurers for the continental brothels came to light (who received, it is said, £15 for each girl they sent away), it was found that no English law could touch them, as the girls were not touched on British soil or by British subjects. Moreover, by steam, intercommunication is easy and cheap, and a wicked international trade in girls is organizing. Girls are exported to Brazil, to New York, to Bombay, and also imported from these countries.

Likewise, if we tighten our laws, and make seduction dangerous and expensive, attempts will be made to "work the oracle" by decoying into other colonies and territories.

No. XI.—That seduction or carnal knowledge of a female pupil by her teacher or tutor, or by any master teacher or tutor of the school she attends be a misdemeanor.

A similar provision to the above has lately become part of the Criminal Law of New South Wales at the instance of the Hon. W. B. Dalley, M.L.C., Attorney-General of New South Wales. The working of the State system of schools has shown its necessity. So, also, has experience shown that there are dangerous men among visiting masters.

No. XII.—That solicitation of a female by a male shall be made as punishable as the solicitation of a male by a female.

It is a vile inequality of the present law that the man goes scot free for doing the same thing for which a woman is sent to gaol.

No. XIII.—That severe penalties be enacted against those who harbor females under twentyone years of age for purposes of page 10 prostitution, and that officient powers be given to the police for taking girls under eighteen out of brothels. Let the onus of proving herself over eighteen rest with the girl.

No. XIV.—Let any man, proved to have carnal knowledge of a woman, who subsequently gives birth to a child, be liable to half the maintenance of the child till it be fourteen years of age, even if he proves that the girl has been common to others.

It is a trick of vicious men to get other men to lie with a seduced girl and so to produce uncertainty of paternity. But as such men do wrong and may be the paternal parent of the child it is right that they, and not society, should bear the burden of, their lust. Moreover, this sort of responsibility would amazingly tend to check seduction and illegitimacy.

No. XV.—Make with concealment or paternity as punishable as concealment of maternity. Let both parents stand on one footing. Not as is now wickedly done, leave the whole burden on the mother.

No. XVI.—This is one which I hold to be of vital importance, and one which, if carried out with wisdom, will procure results of enormous benefit.

Create by law a Board or Council for the protection of women and morals, the Secretary of which shall be a man of ability, and receive a good salary. I would appoint also a lady at high salary, as Assistant Secretary. The members for this Council should be appointed for not longer than three years, by the Governor-in-Council, but be removable by the Governor-in-Council. The Governor should be at liberty to appoint ladies to the extent of one-third of the Council. 1 would not have more than six members of the Council, and Chairman, and they should be persons of the highest repute in the country; they should serve for cause of honor and pro bono publico. The work of this Council should be as follows :—

(a.) A girl who has lost her father should be deemed an orphan. All orphan girls under twenty-one, or girls who have no parent or legal guardian in the colony, shall be deemed the wards of this Council in all matters relating to their sexual relations. So, for example, this Council might, on behalf of an orphan girl, sue a seducer for damages, prosecute a master, or cause to be prosecuted a master who has seduced his female employe, cause the man to be prosecuted who has seduced many girls, or one who has sought to decoy a girl to another country for prostitution. The proposal before the House of Lords' Committee, says the London Echo, "is to make the guardians of a parish guardians of young girls under twenty-one, who have ne parents or relatives to protect them." But we have no guardians of page 11 parishes, and a board for the protection of women is required for many purposes.

(b.) The work of the Board should be to keep the ordinary police up to the mark in the execution of the laws with reference to morals. The police in all lands are very apt to let these laws go to sleep. They are afraid to execute them; they have but little effective support from goody goody people, who lift their hands in pious horror at the Social Evil, but avoid to battle with it. They shall remind the police of brothels, and all other abuses, and shall have it as their duty to complain to Parliament if needful.

(c.) They shall have authority to prosecute all manufacturers and shopkeepers who do not make decent provision for the separation of the sexes.

(d.) They shall have authority to make provision for the cure of venereal disease in cases of poverty, and also to ascertain whether there be an absence of reasonable hospital provision for the same. In certain leading population centres to be named by the Goveruor-in-Council, and published in the Gazette, they shall secure adequate provision of Lock Wards.

(e.) They shall keep an official record of all cases of seduction, affiliation, &c, which shall come before the law courts, and the officials of such courts shall send the needful information to such Council; the Secretary may call attention to such cases as it might be proper for the Council to prosecute; but the record shall not be open to public inspection, nor shall any official divulge under penalty.

(f.) If in any of these cases which come before them, the Council discover that they have good legal evidence that any man or woman has the venereal disease, they may prosecute such person and obtain their committal to a prison hospital, to be provided for such purpose, and the ordinary police may bring before the Council any cases which they may think should be so dealt with; but there shall be no such prosecution without a special minute of the Council for each case. This is a very different proposition from the CD. Acts, which seize on women and leave men free, which authorize spies, and demand proof of innocence from the accused, while they deny redress and appeal to the superior courts, and allow all this against a woman at the instance of spy police on a salary of a few shillings a week. I propose one measure for each sex, only to be carried out under all the usual safeguards of personal liberty, and with the extraordinary safeguard of only being initiated in its individual operation by a very high and trustworthy body of persons. I should further propose that it shall be unlawful for newspapers to publish the names of persons prosecuted by order of the Council page 12 for this offence, or any details of the trial. It might be well to consider whether persons might not be released from confinement in the prison hospital on giving heavy bail to attend at the prison hospital for medical treatment, and also to abstain from sexual commerce during the period for which they are placed under this sentence. But deceptive voluntary submission, such as in the CD. Acts, I do not propose, I would allow, under circumstances to be defined, a person so confined in a prison hospital to employ at his or her own expense any duly qualified medical practitioner, if they would prefer one to the Government physician.

But where persons voluntarily attend hospitals for the cure of venereal disease, they shall not be prosecuted, nor shall attendance at a lock hospital or ward be used in evidence against any one when prosecuted for being subject to the contagious disease.

This safeguard is necessary, or no one would voluntarily attend hospitals for the cure of enthetic disease. They have found in England that the use of knowledge obtained by voluntary attendance at hospitals for the cure of the nameless disease, for the purposes of prosecution, has tended to frighten the diseased from attendance at hospitals.

A power such as the above, entrusted to such a body, must be of hygienic benefit in compelling the medical treatment of legally-known disease. It would also deter diseased persons from illicit intercourse. And thus far I go with Regulationists.

(g.) When one reads of the system of procuration which prevails, the number who are thus nefariously ruined, and how seldom procurers are brought to justice by the police, and how unlikely the police are to bring procurers to justice, I ought to add that it should be a great aim of the Woman's Protection Council to prosecute procurers.

(h.) The Council shall furnish an annual report to Parliament, and shall, through the Colonial Secretary, furnish an estimate of the means required for carrying out their operations, which shall be discussed and voted in the usual way.

Many other matters would fall to the Council in course of time, when by experience and discussion fresh facts came to light. But I have indicated enough to show plentiful work for so august a body.

I ask for this Council in the name of orphan girls, and of our youthful sisters; I ask it for the sake of the public health, and of the generations yet unborn; I ask it so as to bring into effective working the prevention, which is ten thousand times better than cure.

Gentlemen, you will observe that I aim at the protection ot women by the Government, and would institute for that end page 13 a special department. I observe, that in protecting women we protect the dearest interests of honorable men, and that as women are without votes or seats in Parliament, it is only fair that there should be an executive department of the Govern-ment especially created to look after their chief treasure—their personal honor,