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Name, Shame and Blame

Name, Shame and Blame: Criminalising Consensual Sex in Papua New Guinea OPEN ACCESS

Christine Stewart
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13wwvqr
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  • Book Info
    Name, Shame and Blame
    Book Description:

    Papua New Guinea is one of the many former British Commonwealth colonies which maintain the criminalisation of the sexual activities of two groups, despite the fact that the sex takes place between consenting adults in private: sellers of sex and males who have sex with males. The English common law system was imposed on the colonies with little regard for the social regulation and belief systems of the colonised, and in most instances, was retained and developed post-Independence, regardless of the infringements of human rights involved.

    eISBN: 978-1-925021-22-6
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, Public Health
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Table of Contents

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  1. Late in 2010, the Minister for Community Development Dame Carol Kidu convened a meeting of the Decriminalisation Reference Group in her Ministry Office conference room.¹ It was a formidable gathering: the then Minister for Justice and Attorney General, the Secretary for Justice, the National AIDS Council Secretariat Director, United Nations and AusAID HIV project personnel, NGO representatives … and yes, quite a few representatives of the criminal classes, in the form of gays,Palopasand sex sellers. The monsoon was approaching, the air-conditioning was painfully absent, but nobody cared. Everybody was listening to Dame Carol’s great news.

    It was the...

  2. Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of those ‘new’ Commonwealth nations referred to in the epigraph above which ‘resolutely’ retain the criminalisation of homosexual activity and prostitution. In this book, I explore the effect of this criminalisation, in an attempt to provoke and support some of the ‘fresh thinking’ which is desperately needed. Like Justice Kirby, I also make a connection between the two ‘topics’ of homosexuality and prostitution. This is not new. The ‘proscribed forms of “deviant” sexuality—homosexuality and prostitution’ have lent themselves to many studies of state regulation and control of sexualities.² In nineteenth-century England, the linkage...

  3. 2. From the Bush (pp. 39-80)

    In Chapter One, I described how Ryan Goodman challenged the ‘enforcement principle’ (the belief that proscriptive laws which are not enforced have no social effect), arguing that laws which criminalise certain sexualities operate far more broadly, to form and inform social norms. The laws which I examine were introduced into Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the Anglo-Australian colonial enterprise, so in this chapter I describe how the colonisation process took the many peoples of PNG from their villages in the bush to the management of their own affairs as citizens of an independent nation. I pay particular attention to the...

  4. In Chapter 2, I introduced Michel Foucault’s arguments concerning the connection between law and other normative discourses, and how writers on colonialism have highlighted the effective use of introduced sexuality norms and laws in governing colonised populations. In the colonial territories, a completely new paradigm of norm, boundary and discipline was established through the imposition of colonial laws. I described how the system of Native Regulations, which governed the intimate lives of villagers in minute detail, was supported by the discourses of medicine and Christianity, and how decolonisation and modernity have seen the emergence of the social groups who support...

  5. 4. On the Streets (pp. 137-190)

    In this chapter, I describe the placing, on this ‘great social continuum of abnormal to normal’ as the epigraph above has it, of subjects whose sexual activities are criminalised in PNG. The ethnographic record includes some accounts of homosexuality but fewer of the sale or exchange of sex,² and I refer to some accounts in Chapter 2 and summarise them below. Chapter 3 has described the engagement of the formal law before and after Independence, and also refers to Aldrich’s historical overview of homosexuality. But scholarly attention only really began to focus on these matters with the arrival of the...

  6. 5. In Trouble (pp. 191-224)

    The statutes and cases discussed in Chapter 3 demonstrate how the law, both as given by the legislature,² or decided by judges, can either maintain or shift the boundary between the licit and the illicit. Selling sex and male-male sexual behaviour have been placed outside the boundary, and Chapter 3 has indicated some of the direct consequences of this process of criminalisation. Punishment may cause some criminals to reform, but when others do not have this option, or are unwilling to change, they remain outside the boundary, and may become the subjects of society’s victimisation.³ In Chapter 4, I have...

  7. My research has provided a qualitative review of the stigmatisation, discrimination, abuses and other deleterious effects suffered by sex sellers and gays in Port Moresby, both at law and in everyday life. But this research has also thrown up some perplexing conundrums, which Foucauldian theories seem inadequate to answer. Why, for example, do women leaders evince deep sympathy for abused women and go to great lengths to assist and support them, but then condemn them if they turn to selling sex for survival?² If the sale of sex represents performance of a commercial contract like any other, why are sellers...

  8. 7. Where to Now? (pp. 267-304)

    In this concluding chapter, I turn to questioning whether law reform would make a difference to social attitudes. This is the question Ryan Goodman asked himself as he embarked on his South African work. He learned that, yes, even when punitive laws are not enforced, they affect people’s attitudes to those criminalised, but that with decriminalisation these attitudes begin to change. I thought it was not too much to hope that decriminalisation might have the same outcome in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

    In Chapter 3, I referred briefly to the ancient English case of 1584,Heydon’s Case, which sets out...