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Voorkant Jackson 'Child sexual abuse in Victorian England' Louise A. JACKSON
Child sexual abuse in Victorian England
London and New York: Routledge, 2000, 209 blzn.;
ISBN: 04 1522 649X

(1) 1 - Introduction - ‘The children of the poor’

[Uitgebreide citaten hier, omdat dit hoofdstuk in feite de lijn van het hele boek samenvat.]

Eind 19e eeuw werd het kind inmiddels gezien als de toekomst van de natie. Het Victoriaanse kindbeeld was er op gebaseerd, het Victoriaanse recht voor kinderen ook:

"... the child must be protected to guarantee all our pasts and indeed all our futures.(...)
In practical terms, justice was undeniably masculine.(...)
By the turn of the century, therefore, the figure of the (female) child had become an important symbol of the innocent victim of crime. The prevention and punishment of child abuse was deployed as a paradigm for the ideals of the English criminal justice system. This book will concentrate its attentions on one specific form of abuse: child sexual abuse, portrayed by child savers as the most sinister, examining its treatment within the law, and in relation to wider social, political and cultural agendas."(2)

"It is usually acknowledged that the sexual abuse of children was both discovered and constructed in the late 1970s within a very particular framework of aetiology, diagnosis, treatment and cure. [mijn nadruk]. In other words, sexual abuse is a late twentieth-century phenomenon, located specifically within contemporary culture and society. Historians, however, have been quick to demonstrate its historical antecedents and to point to the late nineteenth century as a period when mass campaigning and parliamentary legislation were mobilised over the emotive topics of child prostitution, incest and the age of consent.10 Victorians used a wide collection of euphemisms – ‘moral corruption’, ‘immorality’, ‘molestation’, ‘tampering’, ‘ruining’, ‘outrage’ – to refer to sexual abuse, which was prosecuted in the courts as indecent assault, rape, unlawful carnal knowledge or its attempt."(2-3)

"Recognising that child abuse is, nevertheless, a socially and historically constructed category [mijn nadruk], this book explores the specific meanings attached to sexual abuse in Victorian and Edwardian England, demonstrating how the actualities of criminal cases intermeshed with the symbolic delineation of the child."(3)

"The death penalty was lifted in cases of rape in 1841, the statutory age of consent for girls was raised twice – from 12 to 13 in 1875 and from 13 to 16 in 1885 – and incest was finally made a criminal offence in 1908."(3)

Het aantal gevallen van seksueel misbruik dat voorkwam steeg enorm, maar resulteerde slechts voor ongeveer eenderde van de gevallen in veroordeling.

"Why this paradox? Why the contrast between the vehement rhetoric and the apparent leniency of magistrates and judges? (...) I shall demonstrate throughout that the ambiguities and complexities surrounding sexual abuse were related to Victorian constructions of gender difference, childhood, sexuality and social class."(3-4)

"It is vital to stress that sexual abuse was, throughout the period, associated with female children. English child-saving agencies almost always spoke of offences against ‘young girls’ (rarely boys), usually committed by men (although female accomplices might be implicated). Court proceedings, as this study demonstrates, reflected this specificity: 99 per cent of defendants tried on charges relating to the sexual assault of children were male, while 93 per cent of victims in these cases were female. While French forensic specialists had researched and debated the signs of sexual abuse on male as well as female bodies during the 1850s, their findings were never translated into English. The ‘discovery’ of sexual abuse in England from the 1860s onwards was the product of a coalition of interests between the social purity societies and the burgeoning child welfare movement. The reason for the invisibility of boys (despite police knowledge of a market for adolescent boy prostitutes) lies in the emergence of the issue from the social purity and rescue societies’ preoccupation with ‘fallen’ women and young female prostitutes. A woman’s character, unlike a man’s, was judged in relation to her sexual reputation. Girls and women could ‘fall’ but boys could not, according to the Victorian sexual schema. Sexually abused girls, as a group, constituted a specially targeted social problem. Boys did not and their futures were rarely discussed. [mijn nadruk]"(4-5)

Een en ander was gebaseerd op een Romantisch kindbeeld dat toen opkwam: het kind was niet meer zondig vanwege de erfzonde zoals in het religieuze kindbeeld van de eeuwen ervoor maar juist onschuldig en van nature deugdzaam. Alleen was dat gezien het aantal jeugdige delinquenten niet zo simpel, dus werd naar de sociale corrumperende omstandigheden gewezen. Criminaliteit had met armoede te maken, was klassegebonden.

[Als je seksualiteit dan opvat als iets smerigs - en dat was de visie -, gaat seksualiteit niet van nature samen met dat onschuldige deugdzame kind en is een meisje dat iets met seks te maken heeft gehad meteen ook gecorrumpeerd.]

"The effects of delinquency were clearly gendered. In boys, corruption began as petty thieving and led into a downward spiral of criminal activity. For girls it took the form of immorality or sexual precocity. The associations between delinquency, corruption and sexual knowledge had a significant impact on the treatment of the girl victim of sexual abuse."(6)

"Although the meanings of sexual abuse were also constructed in relation to feminist, radical and socialist epistemologies, this book will emphasise the dominance within the legal and welfare systems of a discourse of Christian moral economy, promoted by the middle classes, that produced an area of confusion around the girl victim’s status. Although the rape of the innocent was defined, theoretically and symbolically, as the most heinous crime which could be committed against children or childhood, the real female victim of sexual abuse was viewed as problematic. The act of sexual abuse was deemed to have corrupted the girl and effected her ‘fall’ from innocence; once ‘fallen’, her moral status was dubious. The sexually abused girl was seen as a polluting presence, and was a particular danger to other children. The construction of childhood in terms of sexual innocence was dependent on the association of adulthood with knowledge and experience. Girls who lost their innocence could no longer be deemed ‘children’ and, instead, became social misfits who needed retraining and reforming in a specialist institution. In terms of age, body and appearance they were still children but, in terms of mentality and morality, they were seen as ‘unnatural’ beings, premature adults who had not had the benefits of a ‘healthy’, ‘normal’ development. Harry Hendrick has suggested that the history of child welfare policy in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can best be understood in relation to shifting and overlapping narratives of children as both victims and threats; the ‘children of the poor’ were clearly both. This dualism can be used to explain the problematic position of the sexually abused girl child in Victorian and Edwardian society. At the same time as she was constructed as the helpless victim of an individual act of brutality, she was, simultaneously, seen as a wider social threat to those around her. [mijn nadruk]"(6-7)

"Since gendered notions of sexual morality were intertwined with perceptions of social class, the socio-economic standing of victims and defendants played an important role in sex abuse trials. The reports of social investigators and parliamentary committees portrayed brutality, immorality, incest and, therefore, deviancy as the norm amongst the poorest sections of society who lived in dirt and squalor. The middle and upper working classes were depicted, in contrast, as respectable and morally righteous."(7)

"The reputation of the girl child was gauged in terms of sexual knowledge and experience; that of a male defendant in relation to his occupational status and position as a family man. Perhaps because child sexual abuse was defined as such a horrible and brutal crime, juries found it harder to believe that a ‘normal’, ‘respectable’ male, with a permanent job and family responsibilities, should wish to molest a child. The middle-class male and, indeed, the middle-class home, was less likely to be the subject of surveillance or scrutiny."(8)

Over de historische methoden om dit soort thema's te bestuderen. Kind-zijn en alles er omheen moet gezien worden als een sociale constructie binnen een historische context.

"Even if psychoanalysis does offer, as a last surviving grand narrative, some kind of ‘transhistorical’ truth about emotional and psychological development, one has to ask where, exactly, its relevance lies in relation to history as a discipline."(9)

"She foregrounds this important analytical issue and ably demonstrates that abuse is constructed through time in relation to notions of gender, ethnicity and class. In considering child abuse, however, it is also vital to examine categories based on age, on notions of adulthood/childhood, and to examine how relations between adults and children have been shaped in the past both within families as well as outside of them.(...)
As Vikki Bell and Shani D’Cruze have argued, physical aggression and its threat remained a central constituent of the power dynamics of interpersonal relations. Material and economic conditions are also important considerations in histories of sexual violence."(10)

"Yet most historians who look at child sexual abuse have to deal with intense personal beliefs that childhood does mean something different from adulthood and that sexual acts between adults and children are wrong. If childhood, the body, sexuality, morality are cultural constructs, what are we to do with our own sense of ethical judgement?"(11)

[Die 'personal beliefs' minstens benoemen zodat ze voor iedereen duidelijk zijn en ze verder zo veel mogelijk buiten je weergave van de geschiedenis laten, zou ik zeggen.]

"The backlash in academia against the concept of a post-modern hyper-real world devoid of morality and ethical judgement is already well underway."(12)

[Ik hou ook niet van postmodernisme en denk ook dat normativiteit veel belangrijker is dan lang beweerd. Het begint dus met het expliciet maken van je waarderingen en het bestrijden van je vanzelfsprekendheden. Niemand wil hopelijk terug naar de dogma's en het dogmatisme van vroeger.]

"There was considerable confusion surrounding the age of consent to sexual intercourse for girls although it was, technically, 12 until 1875."(13)

"As a result of pressures put on parliament by social purity and feminist campaigners to raise the age of consent [mijn nadruk], carnal knowledge of girls aged 12–13 became a misdemeanour in 1875, and a felony if it involved females under 12. Finally, in 1885, the Criminal Law Amendment Act raised the female age of consent to its present level of 16; carnal knowledge was considered a felony if the girl was under 13 and a misdemeanour if aged 13–16. (...) Even today, age-of-consent legislation still accords a different legal status to girls under 13 than to those in the 13–16 category, enshrining in law the belief that the sexual assault of younger children is more serious than that of adolescents and that an abuser should be protected from girls in a transitional age band who might appear to be older than they actually are."(13)

"For the purposes of this book a total of 1,146 sexual assault cases, tried on indictment before courts in Yorkshire and Middlesex (including metropolitan London), have been collected."(18)

"It is clear, therefore, that two-thirds of all metropolitan court trials for sexual assault and possibly half of all Yorkshire trials involved what we would now term the sexual abuse of children under 16."(20)

"The shift from adult to child victims is extremely interesting. Although nineteenth-century commentators ascribed a perceived increase in ‘immorality’ to children’s employment in factories and to overcrowded living conditions, this is, as Clark has observed, an unsatisfactory deduction. Clark, however, holds short of offering an explanation for the shift. It is important to distinguish between reported crime and ‘real’ crime. The statistics do not necessarily indicate that more children were being abused; they do suggest, however, that these cases were more likely to be prosecuted and tried in the courts."(21)

"Both these surveys show that a large number of child sexual abuse cases referred to magistrates were never committed for trial on indictment even before 1908; instead they were dismissed outright or dealt with as common assault charges. Out of thirtynine cases of sexual abuse which came before the Hampstead magistrates in the period 1870–1914, only a quarter were committed for trial."(23)

"The evidence for Thames Police Court and Hampstead Petty Sessions reveals inconsistencies of practice based on personal opinion and parochial concern. They also provide a worthy warning against placing too great a statistical emphasis on indicted crime. Furthermore, they suggest that most sexual abuse cases were either acquitted or trivialised and convicted as minor public order offences. The inconsistency between the abhorrence of sexual abuse (reflected in age-of-consent campaigns and legislation) and the apparent ease with which defendants were discharged or acquitted needs to be reconciled."(23)

"The diversity and complexity of settlement types, their relationship to specific regional patterns of industrial development or contraction, and their fluid and changing configuration in this period of migration and demographic growth makes it very difficult to produce neat, compartmentalised categories for analysis. Dichotomies based on urban/rural, metropolitan/provincial, industrial/commercial are clearly too simplistic for such a task. It is also important to recognise that the number of cases of sexual assault reported remained, on a per capita basis, small throughout the period. Even in 1886, when the reporting of rape and indecent assault (against both children and adults) was at its highest level, only four cases were tried nationally per 100,000 people. Indeed, in Cornwall, where population was very sparsely dispersed, fewer than ten cases – and sometimes as few as one or two cases – were tried each year. The level of statistical information that is available is simply not robust enough to support a sustained analysis based on settlement type, local economy and land-use; I shall therefore focus on changes over time, seeking to identify elements of similarity across regions."(24)

"It has been necessary, too, to adopt the Victorian term ‘victim’ to refer to those who experienced abuse although the term ‘survivor’ is utilised as a form of resistance and empowerment in contemporary rehabilitation strategies. Since the concept of ‘survivor’ is linked to processes of self-definition and identification, its application would be problematic in a historical context. The term ‘victim’ is adopted because it was used historically, because it had a specific legal meaning in court, and for want of a satisfactory alternative. It is important, nevertheless, to consider its loaded and nuanced meanings, which served to construct women and children as vulnerable dependants in need of protection."(24-25)

Ook de definitie van 'seksueel misbruik van kinderen' is niet zo eenvoudig in een historisch perspectief.

"Rather than starting with an underlying and absolute notion of what is and what is not abuse, I shall examine how sexual abuse was constitutedhistorically, focusing on those acts that were described as indecent, illegal, corrupting or abusive by Victorians.(...) the labelling of an act as abuse and the evaluation of consent are still, arguably, subjective practices."(25)

"The book is structured in relation to the different stages involved in the legal process, beginning with the detection of abuse and the making of a charge, moving on to the giving of evidence in court, and culminating with verdict, the sentencing of defendants and the issue of child custody. From the point of view of the child, this framework relates, too, to personal chronology and life-cycle: the experience of abuse, the retelling of that experience in court, the possible removal of the child from parental home to institution, and, finally, retraining (moral, spiritual and industrial) for employment on reaching the age of 16."(26)

(28) 2 - Family, neighbourhood and police

[Na die heldere uitleg over haar onderzoekopzet en de grote lijnen van het probleem, volgen nu vaak concrete gevallen die ik niet zal weer geven.]

"How did labouring communities view the abuse of their children? How did they deal with it? What role did they envisage for the police force and for official modes of punishment? In what circumstances were incidents most likely to be reported to the police? (...) Middle-class representations of the labouring classes should not be confused with the experiences of the poor themselves."(28-29)

"This chapter will also argue that, throughout the Victorian and Edwardian period, the law was most likely to be invoked in allegations involving abuse outside the nexus of the nuclear family: by strangers, employers, lodgers or neighbours. Cases involving incestuous abuse were much more likely to remain secret or, if they were revealed, to be dealt with through unofficial community sanctions."(31)

"As Mary Douglas has pointed out in her anthropological study Purity and danger, concepts of dirt and contamination act symbolically to define social and moral boundaries."(32)

"Parents, relations and neighbours were vital figures in the discovery and reporting of abuse and in the catching of offenders."(33)

Vooral moeders speelden hierin een grote rol omdat ze verantwoordelijk waren voor de zorg voor de kinderen en het snelst intiemere zaken konden waarnemen zoals bloed etc.

"Angry mothers often went in pursuit of assailants, confronting and challenging them with verbal insults, violence and the threat of the police ..."(33)

Al werd de zorg voor kinderen vaak gedeeld door meerdere vrouwelijke familieleden, buren, en zo verder.

"Court depositions, therefore, reveal a wider sense of responsibility for the protection of children. The sexual assault of children was viewed, in terms of popular morality, as extremely serious and in the cases sampled, as a matter for the law."(35)

[De term 'sexual assault' vind ik goed gekozen. In zo'n beetje alle voorbeelden tot nu toe zijn kinderen aan het huilen of aan het gillen, omdat de misbruiker geweld gebruikt. Het roept de vraag of waarover die morele verontwaardiging van familie en omstanders precies gaat: over het gebruikte geweld tegen kinderen of over de seksuele benadering van kinderen. Ik vrees dat we het antwoord nooit zullen weten.]

"Given that modern sociologists and social workers have suggested that the vast majority of sexual abuse cases remain secret, the incidents reported to the police and indeed tried in the nineteenth century must have been a very small tip of a very large iceberg.44 How does this affect the conclusions that can be reached? To what extent did working people really trust the courts or the police? If there was a popular culture which articulated outrage at the brutality of abuse, why were prosecutions so few and far between? These questions will be pursued by considering, firstly, the relationships of neighbourhood, police and magistracy and, secondly, the types of offences that were most likely to be prosecuted."(35)

"Storch has depicted the police as an official agency attempting to impose the values of the middle-class élite on working people.(...) Working men and women continually came into conflict with the law and police over strikes, riots and demonstrations.(...)
Yet, as Jennifer Davis and Carolyn Conley have demonstrated, law and police were not always seen as a threatening mechanism of élite control; they could also be used by working people to retain and enforce the moral codes and values of their own community."(36)

"This story, like many others, shatters the image of the poor as immoral and depraved. It also demonstrates a range of strategies for dealing with abuse: the preventative and prohibitory actions of the landlady, the aggressive response of the lodgers who laid into him physically, the attempt to aid the child, and, finally, the move to call the police and assist with the arrest."(37)

"The extension of the jurisdiction and authority of police forces in the decades after 1830 must be seen as an attempt to replace community violence/justice with officially sanctioned controls."(38)

"In some areas the practice of settling sexual assault cases through financial payment was still accepted by the courts at mid-century.(...)
Increasingly, however, attempts to settle a case financially were viewed as both illegal and as a declaration of guilt on the part of the defence.(...)
Thus unofficial modes of solving disputes [de familie van slachtoffers loste de situatie van misbruik vaak zelf op, speelde voor eigen rechter dus - GdG] were increasingly discouraged and discounted by police and magistrates and this may have been a factor leading to an increase in litigation for sexual abuse as the century progressed."(39)

"It was clearly understood that ‘juvenile prostitution’ was a euphemism for sexual abuse."(42)

"It was in cases of extra-familial abuse that the courts became a favoured option."(43)

Want incest werd vooral intern in de familie afgehandeld, er werd zo min mogelijk ruchtbaarheid aan gegeven, het ging om familiegeheimen.

"Up until the Education Act of 1870, it was common practice for girls as young as 10 to be sent out to work as domestic servants, sometimes living on the premises; in the later decades of the nineteenth century girls over 14 were in regular employment. Separated from their families and friends they were particularly vulnerable, as Shani D’Cruze has demonstrated, to abuses of the authority and economic power which masters held over servants."(45)

"Thus the seduced maiden and the libertine became a ‘class metaphor’ which represented working class against capitalist, as well as bourgeoisie against aristocracy."(46)

"Thus neighbours, relations and friends provided important support networks as well as strategies of censure for dealing with incest when it came to their knowledge. Yet a complex set of reasons – family status and respectability, economic vulnerability, fear of further brutality – might also lead to a conspiracy of silence within the family group."(49)

"This chapter has examined the role of informal mechanisms of detection and regulation (based on the interventions of family, friends and neighbours) as well as the circumstances in which working people turned to the official mechanism of the courts; the interventions of an increasing body of voluntary and semi-official welfare agencies will be considered next."(50)

(51) 3 - The child savers

Dit hoofdstuk gaat over instanties als de NSPCC (= National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) die gezinnen volgden en uithuisplaatsing van meisjes nastreefden wanneer dat volgens de instantie nodig was.

"... child custody was just as important an issue as punishment of offenders. They demonstrate that child welfare was the concern of a proliferation of voluntary institutions and organisations, each with its own particular remit, each scrutinising parental conduct for signs of viciousness; moral indiscretions were viewed as part of a continuum of bad parenting which ended in brutality and violence. Yet, as well as being subject to their scrutiny, parents also saw welfare agencies as a useful resource in the care and protection of their children."(52)

"As Harry Ferguson has demonstrated, the NSPCC played an important role in the development of the techniques and practices associated with modern social and welfare work. He has argued that the NSPCC, in setting up a nation-wide body of professional inspectors following a set of clear policy guidelines and answerable to a central head office, established a systematic programme of welfare intervention which was based on ‘modern’ notions of family surveillance: regular visits, advice and warning.(...) Yet Ferguson’s focus on NSPCC sources means that the activities of other societies are obscured.
This chapter will, in contrast, stress elements of continuity rather than change in the treatment of sexual abuse cases by child protection agencies in the mid and late Victorian periods. This is not to contradict Ferguson’s thesis but to argue that sexual abuse must be analysed as a separate category of case. Constructed as a social problem during the 1860s and 1870s by rescue and social purity groups, its meanings were negotiated within a discourse of Christian moral economy [mijn nadruk]. The influence of this social purity agenda can be clearly detected in early NSPCC publicity material produced under the aegis of director Benjamin Waugh."(52)

"Linda Gordon has highlighted the influence of first wave feminism on the practice of social work. Gordon has argued that victims of incest and sexual abuse were treated with sympathy between 1880 and 1910; it was in the period 1910–60 that the girl victim was reconstituted as a threat and labelled as a juvenile delinquent. This book contends, however, that the concept of the sexually precocious female ‘juvenile delinquent’ was a significant reference point, whether direct or indirect, in discussions of sexual abuse in nineteenth-century England. It is important to draw attention to feminist campaigns that exposed male sexual brutality and argued for a similar standard of moral behaviour for men and women, but it is also clear that feminist rhetoric cannot be separated from the social purity agenda [mijn nadruk]. While feminists such as Josephine Butler were extremely sympathetic to the plight of girl victims, their belief in an essential feminine moral virtue meant that the ‘fallen’ girl who did not repent remained a social threat. The rhetoric that was deployed by the child savers to describe sexual abuse will be analysed here to draw attention to the complex meanings and configurations of ‘victim’ and ‘threat’ that drove welfare practice. The influence of social purity ideas will be stressed throughout."(53)

[Met andere woorden: de 'middle-class rescue and child-saving movement'(55) die meisjes wilde beschermen hielden er christelijke waarden en normen op na over seks en zo. Ze hadden negatieve vooroordelen over arbeidersgezinnen, zagen de economische armoede niet als oorzaak van veel ellende, veroordeelden individuen omdat ze niet 'fatsoenlijk' en 'deugdzaam' waren. Willen beschermen doe je vanuit een normatief kader: iemand moet beschermd worden tegen ... wat? en waarom?]

"NSPCC rhetoric often categorised the different forms of crimes against children in a linear order of gravity, with sexual abuse, throughout the period, adjudged the most serious."(54)

"This language raises the question as to why, exactly, sexual abuse was seen as the ‘most dastardly’. The purpose of this line of enquiry is not to trivialise incidents of sexual abuse but to ask why it was often treated, rhetorically, as more serious than the cases of chronic neglect and brutal beating that also regularly featured in the pages of the society’s journal, the Child’s Guardian."(54-55)


"Foucault has drawn attention to the way in which silence can function as a discursive practice; within the nineteenth-century rhetoric of child-saving and social purity, euphemisms and well-posted silences spoke volumes."(55)

"Sexual abuse, like other forms of child abuse, was seen as threatening because it was the result of ‘savage’ impulses. The related oppositions of savagery/civilisation, immorality/morality, cruelty/humanity were regularly dwelt upon in both social purity and NSPCC publicity material."(56)

"Although the NSPCC often declared that cruelty knew no class and indeed was just as likely to be found among the rich as the poor, it was nevertheless the houses of the poor rather than the rich that its inspectors visited routinely. Indeed the society came more and more to focus on the poor and the problem of overcrowding as a cause of abuse."(57)

"For the Victorian child savers, the true horror of sexual abuse lay not in the actual physical act of abuse but in the long-term effect it had on the child, physically and morally.(...) Abuse polluted and corrupted the child; it effected the beginnings of her own transformation into savage or monster. Both were ostensibly monsters since both were ‘unnatural’ – the offender for his base and immoral desires, the victim for her fall from the innocent state of childhood which was judged her natural condition. Such a fall was a permanent one; children whose innocence was gone were ‘ruined for life’."(57-58)

"For, while continually denying its desire to prosecute and its preference for other remedies, the NSPCC preferred to prosecute offenders in sex abuse cases if at all possible."(59)

"In 1925 a special investigating board – the Departmental Committee on Sexual Offences against Young Children – reported its findings to parliament.79 The committee, which included women JPs Clara Martineau and Clara Rackham as well as NSPCC director Robert Parr, was alarmed at the number of child victims removed from parental custody even when the offender was not a family member. The committee found ‘instances in which children, who had good homes of their own, have been sent away to a special institution for many years, because the parents have been induced to believe that such action is necessary where a sexual offence has been committed against a child’."(64)

"The evidence demonstrated the continued operation of the social purity viewpoint that ‘fallen’ women and girls required reformation and retraining."(65)

"This series of acts transformed the role of children’s homes in the nineteenth century; the orphanage of the 1830s, which aimed to feed and clothe the destitute and parentless, was replaced with the training home of the 1880s which was supposed to remedy the effects of ‘bad’ parenting, and to retrain its child inmates morally, physically and industrially, in order to take on their roles as efficient citizens."(65)

"Michelle Cale has demonstrated that child savers often used the argument that a mother was ‘immoral’ and therefore unfit to take care of her children as grounds for removing girls from parental care."(69)

"This chapter has examined the strategies and procedures of the child welfare and rescue societies involved in the prosecution of sexual abuse in the courts. The next two chapters will focus on a different aspect of court procedure: the giving of evidence and the evaluation of witness statements. Two contrasting sets of voices will be examined in turn: those of the medical experts, called to give forensic testimony as to the signs of abuse on the child’s body and, secondly, those of the child victims themselves, who were required to describe their version of events. The dualistic concept of the ‘fallen’ as victim/threat permeated the construction and reception of these forms of evidence."(70)

(71) 4 - Signs on the body - The medical profession

"When allegations of sexual abuse arose, the detection and interpretation of these bodily signs – the semiology of the body – led the doctor out of the surgery and into the courtroom. According to statute law, a child’s testimony was not in itself sufficient to convict a defendant of sexual assault; forensic or other circumstantial evidence was necessary in order to prove that an offence had been committed. The medical doctor was an essential witness in cases of child sexual abuse."(71)

"However, like established texts dealing with the adult body, the new paediatric literature was ordered in terms of anatomy, describing the organs of the body one by one, their disease and breakdown. Within this structure (which automatically precluded discussion of psychological or mental development) the sexual abuse of young girls was presented as part of the discussion of genito-urinary illnesses and, in particular, vaginal discharges."(72)

"How did doctors view the child’s body? How did they search for and measure sexual abuse? What importance was attached, in court, to medical evidence? What about cases which never came to court?"(73)

"A widespread and often institutionalised hostility to women within the male medical profession was revealed in misogynist descriptions of child victims and their mothers, but also in a tendency to make judgements that went against female complainants. Doctors were extremely reluctant to recognise and diagnose sexual abuse and a whole battery of alternative explanations was found for suggestive signs including physiological disease, physical dirt, forgery and precocious imagination."(73)

Zoiets roept vanzelf vragen op naar de praktijk van het vaststellen van seksueel misbruik. Temeer omdat de medische professie door mannen gedomineerd werd en de slachtoffers vrijwel altijd meisjes waren. Het duurde dat de jaren 1930 voordat er sprake was van vrouwelijke dokters die vrouwelijk slachtoffers onderzochten.

"English medical writers demonstrated an astonishing refusal to attribute discharges in children to sexual abuse;"(75)

"Once again the children of the poor were represented as dirty and contaminated; their mothers as ignorant and overzealous in their accusations."(76)

"This effected a shift of blame away from the male assailant; it was the mother who was constructed as the figure of blame."(77)

"It is extremely probable that a large number of cases never came to trial because the medical evidence was deemed insufficient to prosecute from the outset."(82)

"In 1894 Lawson Tait argued that most cases of sexual abuse reported to the police were ‘trumped up charges’ made by ‘vile conspirators and blackmailers’, usually mothers and girl children, to extort money or destroy the reputation of their alleged male assailants.(...)
He argued that since male sexual behaviour was generally expected to be active and predatory, any allegation made against a man might be automatically believed. If, for whatever reason, a man found himself closeted and unchaperoned with a woman or young girl, he could not guarantee she would not make some allegation against him ..."(83)

"The child’s body was supposed to be pure, closed, intact and hence unmarked by other bodies; it was also supposed to be clean. The child’s body, if healthy, should be free from any trace of sexuality. In 1831 Ryan commented that a child under the age of 10 ‘cannot have desire’. In 1856 William Acton wrote that: ‘in a state of health no sexual idea should enter a child’s mind’. Children should be kept clean, he urged, and, if irritation arose in the sexual parts, they should be carefully washed to ensure moral purity and prevent the development of sexual precocity. Dirt was inextricably linked with sexuality, cleanliness with purity. Michel Foucault has suggested that the great nineteenth-century panic about masturbation, to which Acton made a major contribution, indicated that the Victorians had ‘discovered’ infantile sexuality. For Victorians, however, the issue was described not in terms of child ‘sexuality’ but in terms of child ‘precocity’; the difference of construction is an important one. The notion of precocity suggested abnormal and premature development; it indicated not that all children were sexual but that the harmful acquisition of sexual knowledge could impede natural development and growth. Victorians feared the precocious child because they so desperately wanted to cling on to the idea of the innocent one [mijn nadruk]. While they had, indeed, unwittingly ‘discovered’ child sexuality, they preferred to confine, restrain, and label it as ‘abnormality’ rather than to face up to the facts of its existence."(86)

"The notion of women’s discharges as polluting was most evident in the operation of the Contagious Diseases Acts which identified women rather than men as responsible for the spread of contagious diseases."(86)

(90) 5 - ‘Witnesses of truth’? Children in the courtroom

"This chapter sets out to examine how children’s statements as witnesses were constructed and interpreted in the courtroom, in relation to ideas about age, gender, class and status. What ‘demeanour’ was associated with truth and what with ‘falsehood’? Were boys and girls judged differently?(...)
Both this chapter, which focuses on child victims, and the next, which examines attitudes towards defendants, demonstrate that the relative class and reputation of the two parties, interpreted with regard to age and gender, were significant factors that influenced the decisions of magistrates, judges and juries."(90)

"As well as the issue of rationality – the ability to remember events accurately and to distinguish truth from falsehood – the courts were also concerned with the issue of suggestibility: the way in which adults in authority (often mothers, although, in Eliza’s case, her grandmother) could influence a child’s statement."(94)

"Child witnesses in sexual assault cases presented a particular dilemma for the courts. The explicit nature of the charge required children to describe the physical assault but, because sexual knowledge was associated with adulthood [mijn nadruk], it was assumed that children’s vocabulary would limit what they could say. The use of ‘adult’ vocabulary would immediately raise the question of suggestibility. Children like Eliza who used formal words like ‘privates’ or ‘person’ to refer to genitalia in court were questioned as to where they had learnt them."(94)

"Recent scholarship in sociology, literary studies and history has demonstrated that ‘childhood’ is a social and imaginative construct and that the notion of ‘childhood’ as a state of innocence was a Victorian middle-class ideal or fantasy."(95)

"Delinquency, however, had different manifestations that were dependent on gender. As recent studies by Michelle Cale and Pamela Cox have pointed out, control of female sexuality was the central aim of industrial and reformatory schools for girls. Linda Mahood and Barbara Littlewood have, similarly, demonstrated that delinquency in boys tended to be associated with the criminal activity of thieving while delinquency in girls was associated with sexual precocity, wandering the streets and living in ‘immoral surroundings’.31 The reputation or respectability of male youth was dependent on honesty and truthfulness with regards to money. For girls, reputation was based on sexual respectability."(96)

"Girls of the poorer classes, even when they were clearly under the age of consent like Mary Pugh, were depicted as corrupted, depraved and delinquent throughout the nineteenth century, as a brief survey of cases demonstrates."(98)

"There was an essential paradox associated with the evidence of the girl child victim of sexual assault. A girl who really was innocent and virtuous should be ignorant of the language and meaning of sexual acts and would, therefore, be unable to articulate what had happened to her. Responses of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ could not be believed since she was unable to understand the nature of the questioning. If, however, she possessed the language to describe sexual acts, it was a clear sign that she was depraved and therefore untrustworthy."(99)

"The increase in prosecutions for child abuse and the moral panic about juvenile prostitution were paralleled by the development of the issue of juvenile delinquency which led to the scrutiny, surveillance and attempt to regulate the behaviour of the children of the poor. Indeed, concerns about delinquent youth came to such a head that the 1890s saw something of a backlash against the child protection movement. Conviction rates for child sexual abuse cases sent to the Old Bailey plummeted from 72 per cent in 1890 to 44 per cent in 1895 and, to the Yorkshire Assizes, from 87 per cent in 1890 to 45 per cent in 1895, suggesting that judges and juries were running out of sympathy for girl victims."(106)

(107) 6 - Masculinity, ‘respectability’ and the child abuser

"In 1907 Old Bailey judge Justice Darling sentenced a 50-year-old man to ten years’ penal servitude for raping his 11-year-old daughter. Addressing the defendant, he remarked: ‘The story told here today by the girl and your wife represents you as a perfectly idle, vicious man. You are a person of whom I am afraid there are numbers in London, who do not work, who do not want to work, but who want to drink and who are immoral.’ Darling linked incestuous abuse to a debased lifestyle that he associated with unemployment, idleness, drunkenness and criminality. He identified abusive behaviour as typical of men of the underclass, residuum or, as Charles Booth described them in 1889, the ‘vicious classes’. This behavioural model was the antithesis of the ideal of masculine respectability – the ‘manly’ man – established by a proliferation of middle-class texts during the nineteenth century. Samuel Smiles’s Self-help of 1859, one of the most famous and popular renditions of this theme, provided a detailed prescription for male virtue, based on action and industry, self-respect, self-reliance and self-control.
Although the concept of manliness underwent several transformations during the course of the century, Smiles’s central message still resonates through Darling’s statement. Morality, industry and virtue were closely related; economic failure was both a result and a sign of idleness and moral deficiency.
Darling was clearly disgusted at the man’s action, as were most commentators faced with the appalling brutality of child abuse and incest. Yet this horror does not appear to have led to increased severity in the courts: 31 per cent (nearly a third) of all defendants who were tried for sexually assaulting children were, in fact, acquitted. This chapter examines how this could have been possible. By analysing, in turn, the viewpoints of child savers, defendants and judges, it shows that the sex abuser was commonly evaluated as ‘deviant’ in relation to notions of ‘respectable’ masculinity in the Victorian and Edwardian judicial systems. The ‘normal’ father and breadwinner who protected and provided for his family remained beyond reproach."(107)

[Typisch, die klassejustitie. Het is nooit veranderd, al ligt het tegenwoordig een stuk genuanceerder.]

"The concept of manly virtue constructed men of the ‘vicious classes’ as child abusers and, frequently, privileged the ‘respectability’ of the professional and middle classes, placing them beyond behavioural criticism and censure.(...)
Sexual abuse was increasingly delineated as a heinous offence committed by ‘brutes’ and ‘savages’ – in other words, social deviants – rather than by ‘normal’ men. This construction firmly placed the male abuser in the category of male ‘otherness’; the abuser was the vicious, idle slum-dweller who represented the antithesis of the ‘normal’, respectable, breadwinner."(108)

"Those [vrouwelijke aangeklaagden - GdG] found guilty of aiding and abetting rape tended to receive similar sentences to male defendants found guilty of rape with whom they appeared in court.
Women who facilitated the rape of their own children were seen by judges as especially brutal ..."(109)

"The statistical evidence that 99 per cent of defendants in the case study were male, coupled with research on present-day societies which suggests that sexual abuse is still very much a male specific crime, suggests that explanations for abuse must lie in the constructions of masculinity and male sexuality in this period."(110)

[De opmerking over socioloog Jeff Hearn - die stelt dat mannen minder over zouden gaan tot seksueel misbruik als ze een belangrijkere rol zouden spelen in de verzorging en opvoeding van kinderen - is interessant. Het gaat samen - zoals ze ervoor zegt - met een grotere fysieke intimiteit met kinderen. Ik denk dat de waarden en normen over masculiniteit die we tegenwoordig kennen weer lijken op de 18e eeuwse, zie p.111: "This discourse associated sexual conquest with virility and defined male sexuality as predatory by nature..." - met het element agressie etc.. en dat Hearns idee mannen weer zachter zou kunnen maken. Maar ... vrouwen willen dat niet zo blijkt. Mannen moeten vooral mannig blijven. Stom. ]

"As a concept ‘manliness’ itself underwent a transformation between the 1840s and 1880s – from an evangelically-inspired quest for spiritual perfection which emphasised selflessness, hard work and family duties in the early Victorian period – to a robust stoicism, perfected through athleticism, team sports and militaristic discipline in the late Victorian period. It will be argued, here, that middle-class codes of manliness, which emphasised social and moral purity, were closely related to the confrontation of child sexual abuse by the late nineteenth century."(111)

"Middle-class ideals of virtuous masculinity were deployed by male and female social purity workers during the 1880s in relation to the issue of ‘juvenile prostitution’ and child abuse. Sexual assault was constructed as the worst form of brutality, the mindless excess of the ‘unmanly’ man in opposition to the chivalrous actions of the ‘manly’ man."(112)

"The question remains as to what extent this ‘reconstructed’ masculinity was dominant or influential. As Frank Mort has pointed out, MPs and Home Office officials, who repeatedly blocked attempts to outlaw incest or raise the age of consent, saw social purity and feminist leaders as ‘faddists and fanatics’. As Tosh has indicated, there was still an obvious and indeed sizeable market for female prostitutes despite the activities of the purity campaigners.(...) Pamela Walker has shown ... that men who forfeited the pugilism, gambling and drinking associated with certain traditions of working-class masculinity, became subject to ridicule and attack."(113)

"According to statute law the pre-pubescent body of the 12-year-old girl was an entirely legitimate object of male sexual desire before 1885.(...)"(114)

Volgt een korte samenvatting van Kincaid's Child-loving. The erotic child and Victorian culture van 1992. Jackson's commentaar:

"In his survey of ‘child-loving’, attempting to span some 200 years of cultural history, James Kincaid has traced the roots of modern concerns about child abuse and paedophilia to nineteenth-century notions of children as sexual innocents. He has suggested that ‘by insisting so loudly on the innocence, purity and asexuality of the child, we have created a subversive echo: experience, corruption, eroticism’. The child, conceived of as ‘other’ within a discourse of sexuality, becomes an object of erotic desire. For Kincaid the figure of ‘the paedophile’ is constructed out of the projection and denial of ‘our’ desires concerning the child. One of the central problems with Kincaid’s thesis is his failure to establish exactly who ‘we’ are. He ignores any suggestion that subjectivity and sexual desire may be gendered, failing to engage with the large body of feminist-influenced studies which have sought to analyse sexuality and sexual violence in relation to structures of power and authority. Nevertheless Kincaid does make points which become more useful when related to specific contexts, thereby escaping the ‘we’ problem. The concept of sexual innocence, which was elevated in the Victorian ‘cult of the little girl’, was clearly dependent on its opposite: the lurking shadow of experience and adult corruption. Furthermore, social purity writers of the 1880s, in buying into this idealisation of innocence, further commodified and, indeed, fetishised it."(114)

"What was particularly new about Stead’s articles in 1885 was his candid articulation of all those anxieties about childhood and sexuality which had previously dogged nineteenth-century minds. Once and for all, he clearly exposed the child as a sexually desirable object although his purpose, in doing so, was to contain these desires as morally out of bounds. He explicitly recognised another premature closure or resolution for innocence, the resolution which was told in the courts on a daily basis: rape and sexual assault."(116)

"Defendants from all social backgrounds appeared before the courts on sexual abuse charges, but the majority came from the vast ranks of the working classes, whether artisan, semi-skilled or unskilled labourers. This does not mean that the middle classes were less likely to abuse children; rather, they were less likely to be charged with doing so."(116)

"The drink excuse bridged the gap between libertine and stoic notions of masculinity since it depicted sexual conquest as an uncontrollable impulse that was unleashed in men through intoxication. Given the centrality of public house and beer shop in many working neighbourhoods, it would seem that drinking and sexual libertinism were still, throughout the century, constituents of certain working-class archetypes of manliness."(118)

"The negotiation of the boundaries of physical familiarity depended on gender as well as on the degree of social relationship. The physical intimacy between women and children clearly transcended the familial or neighbourly relationship. It was acceptable for men to kiss, hug and touch children in a playful manner if they were the children of family and friends; it was deemed inappropriate, on the other hand, if they were strangers."(120)

"The rape of married women by their husbands was not criminalised until 1991 and incest, although a sin in the eyes of the Church, was not made illegal until 1908. Sexual abuse of children was legally regulated through age-of-consent legislation which meant that girls aged 13–16 could be seen as legitimate objects of their father’s sexual affection until 1885. It was often difficult to prove a child’s age if there had been no official register of her birth. Even after the 1908 Incest Act, cases were still unlikely to come to court. Some fathers may well have assumed that marital rights over wives extended to children as well."(120)

"Despite these moves to professionalisation, nineteenth-century observers described the decisions of judges in sexual abuse cases as random and inconsistent."(124)

[Maar dus niet op het vlak van klassegebondenheid, sociale status etc. wat hiervoor besproken werd. Op dat punt was er sprake van grote consistentie, geeft Jackson zelf aan.]

"Where sufficient information is available about the occupation of the defendant and age of victim in the study sample, it seems that working-class men were more likely to be convicted of child sexual abuse than men of the middle classes; indeed, the higher the class, the lower the conviction rate."(125)

"It is possible to detect, within the judicial bench and magistracy, shared attitudes as to what constituted respectable masculine behaviour, attitudes which, it can be assumed, were shaped by a wealthy background and public school education."(126)

"To be respectable meant to espouse the values of a civilised, progressive, Christian society. Its antithesis was the savage, the uncivilised, the corrupted and the pagan."(127-128)

(132) 7 - Specialist homes for ‘fallen’ girls

"This chapter examines the emergence and development of specialist homes for ‘fallen’ girls in the period 1830–1914, demonstrating that provision was sparse and piecemeal in the nineteenth century because of concerns about the corrupting influence of the precocious child and confusions about the boundary between childhood and adulthood.(...) The chapter will also explore children’s diverse experiences of welfare provision, which was largely in the hands of private philanthropic societies with very specific religious denominational affiliations."(132)

"Thus the second half of the nineteenth century saw a rethinking of the categorisation of women and children. Where, previously, the needs of women and children had been identified as analogous, they were increasingly separated into distinct groups with their own specific medical, philanthropic, moral and social requirements."(134)

"In the rest of this chapter I shall examine the case histories of three girls who were referred to residential institutions in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods as a result of sexual abuse allegations. These studies will be used to explore the nuanced and differing responses of the Waifs and Strays homes, the Salvation Army and the Jewish Association, comparing and contrasting the policies, therapies and training methods that were in operation."(137)

(152) 8 - Conclusion - From ‘corruption’ to ‘neurosis’?

"By the end of the nineteenth century the view that children were essentially innocent was subject to sustained critique.(...) Nevertheless, those involved in the day-to-day business of child-saving continued to express their concerns within a familiar Judaeo-Christian framework and to analyse moral development in terms of good and evil propensities."(152)

"The beginnings of a shift in attitude are discernible from the end of the First World War as the idea that victims of sexual abuse should be ghettoised in separate institutions for ‘fallen’ girls came under attack. (...) The notion of ‘moral corruption’ was up for debate, a result of the popularisation of child psychology and a growing interest in psychoanalysis within certain ‘expert’ circles."(152)

"The effects of sexual abuse were discussed as psychological trauma rather than moral damage. Treatment was delineated in terms of psychotherapy rather than religious conversion. The causes of abuse were interpreted in relation to the mental disorder of abusers although there was a continued emphasis on the living conditions of the poor."(153)

"The recommendations of the 1925 committee were largely ignored. As Pamela Cox has demonstrated in her important study of the treatment of girl delinquents, the segregation of ‘fallen’ and ‘unfallen’ children continued into the 1930s. She has argued that religious beliefs and structures continued to shape life within the children’s home where the impact of psychoanalysis seems to have been minimal. In her examination of social work agencies in Boston, USA, Linda Gordon has suggested that psychiatric and psychoanalytic theories had their greatest impact during the 1940s and 50s: the theory of phantasy was widely used to ignore or ‘explain away’ complaints of incest and sexual abuse. The child herself or her mother (rather than the father) became the figure of blame."(154)

"Thus the dualistic structure of the religious/moral paradigm, although challenged by psychological and psychiatric theory, continued to hold sway for much of the twentieth century."(154)

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