10. Persons in authority must be particularly careful

Paul Quinlivan’s Snapshots

Readers who watched the recent BBC TV series Ruling Passions on SBS, and whose father or grandfather served in the Admin., must have been affected by the fact that it depicted ‘free sex’ as a perquisite of empire – free, that is, for officers of the administering power and their troops. The main speakers in the programme were the women involved, who had no say in the matter.

In answer to this I can only point out, as Monte did in his 1952 speech, that we did not have troops in TPNG – except to fight the Japanese. In addition there is the fact that five great judges controlled the legal system for incredibly long periods and they all regarded The Rule of Law as sacred. As a result, anyone coming to TPNG with ‘free sex’ in mind was quickly disabused of it, not because of prudery or unreasonable beliefs in celibacy but because ‘consent’ was a requirement as was made frighteningly clear by the case of R v George Evan John Pringle who was sentenced, at Kundiawa, to five years imprisonment for rape on 6 April 1951. Pringle was a Medical Assistant, a trained paramedic, and he was both conscientious and good in his work.

Unfortunately for him, his wife left him and he turned his attentions to a young female attendant at Kundiawa hospital. He claimed that she consented but Monte disagreed, HOLDING that: “She was a young Native girl of 15 or 16, he was a ‘white man’ and her superior officer. He was also, to her, ‘the Government’. She did not physically beat or scratch him because, she said, he was a ‘white man’ and that explanation, I consider, rings true. She was not on equal terms with him …. She put up all the resistance that a young Native girl, in these circumstances, could be expected to make …” The warning which Monte’s words convey was widely circulated and it was, indirectly, the cause of my writing the article “Afek of Telefomin” published in Oceania for Sept-Dec 1954, pp 17-22. I had been sent, in April 1954, to investigate the Telefomin killings and the reasons for the killings were a prime consideration. Imagine my horror when, during the trials, I was told that the assumption had been voiced, at ASOPA and in Canberra, that the killings were in retribution for someone breaching the Rule in Pringle’s Case! This was not only pure speculation, it was totally untrue! But it shows how all- pervasive the Warning from Pringle’s Case was!

 

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