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Unnatural Offences

Trials for =sodomy= and =bestiality= are common at the assizes, but, as

they are rarely reported, they fail to attract attention. Sodomy is a

crime both in the active and passive agent, unless the latter is a

non-consenting party. The evidence of either associated may be received

as against his colleague. If the crime is committed on a boy under

fourteen, it is a felony in the active agent only. As in cases of rape,

ssion is not essential, and penetration, however slight, answers all

practical purposes.

There can be no doubt that in the majority of these cases there exists a

congenitally abnormal condition of the sexual instinct, these

individuals from their childhood manifesting a perverted sexual

instinct. The man is physically a man, but psychically a woman, and

vice versâ. The tendency nowadays is not to charge these people with

the more serious offence, but to deal with them under Section 11 of the

Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 (48 and 49 Vict., c. 69). This section,

which is sufficiently comprehensive, runs as follows: 'Any male person

who in public or private commits or is a party to the commission, or

attempts to procure the commission by any male person, of any act of

gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a

misdemeanour.' The penalty is imprisonment for two years, with or

without hard labour. It is provided by Section 4 of the same Act that a

boy under sixteen may be whipped.

=Incest.=--This crime is dealt with under the Punishment of Incest Act,

1908 (8 Edward VII., c. 45). Carnal knowledge with mother, sister,

daughter, or grand-daughter, is a misdemeanour, provided the

relationship is known. It also applies to the half-brother and

half-sister. It is equally an offence whether the relationship can or

cannot be traced through lawful wedlock. Consent is no defence. A woman

may be charged under the Act if she, being above the age of sixteen,

with consent permits her grandfather, father, brother, or son, to have

carnal knowledge of her.