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Pitcairn Island is one of the British Empire’s most isolated remnants, a mystical hunk of rock that was largely ignored until 1996.
Then Pitcairn’s secret was exposed: generations of rape and child molestation as a way of life.
Two seats away from Kari Young sat a London writer named Dea Birkett, who had enraged the Pitcairners with her 1997 book, All the islanders cared about, one told Birkett, were “the three F’s—fishing, food, and fucking.” The two women did not exchange a nod all day.“Child Abuse on a Grand Scale”Even when one knows the great distances, it is not easy to comprehend the fullness of Pitcairn’s physical, social, and psychological isolation.
No airplane has ever landed on Pitcairn; no ship ever moored there.
Delving into the South Pacific island’s past, the authors chronicle its 10-year clash with the British legal system, which ripped apart a tiny society.
T he venerable Privy Council sits behind the usual barricades of modern life on prime London real estate at No. The court’s power has faded from its colonial heights, when one of its decisions banned suttee, the Hindu practice of burning the widow with her husband’s body atop his funeral pyre.
The trials had been held in a makeshift courtroom on Pitcairn.
At the Privy Council, on July 10, 2006, the prisoners were appealing those convictions.
The girlhood crush from that movie never ebbed, and 15 years later it carried her, like so many dreamers before her, to a life, a husband, and children on Pitcairn.Colleen Mc Cullough, the Australian author of and wife of a well-known Pitcairn descendant, harshly criticized the British for prosecuting what even the Foreign Office grudgingly conceded was a “cultural trait.” She said, “It’s Polynesian to break your girls in at 12.”In the court chambers, the chatter hushed as the bailiff entered and intoned the words “Stevens Raymond Christian and others against the Queen.”The barristers, their powdered wigs sliding sideways from the sweat, hailed mostly from New Zealand, though their fees were being paid by the British.A prominent London barrister named David Perry had been recruited to aid the colonists in these aristocratic surroundings.That was the beginning, not the end, of the odd colony the mutineers founded.Over the centuries Pitcairn, its population rising as high as 233 and now holding at 47, has become a mystical destination for those seeking escape, freedom, and the dream of paradise in the South Seas.