Pitcairn: Paradise Lost



Source: Visit Pitcairn 


Pitcairn Islands is an isolated archipelago scattered in the Pacific Ocean, thousands of kilometers away even from its nearest neighboring countries, French Polynesia and Eastern Islands. As one of the the 14 last remaining British colonies, it is also the least populated entity: no more than 70 people inhabit its main island, with a volcano at its epicenter.

Given its isolation, however, a dirty secret has remained floating among the populace for decades: mass rape and incest that has penetrated most of the populace in this tiny outpost for decades.

A November 2009 article by Reader’s Digest explored what became the colony’s main skeleton in the closet.




Pitcairn had, by then, been a British colony for about 150 years, although Britain had left the place largely alone. Governors visited occasionally, but the island ran itself, appointing its own policemen and magistrates.

There had been warning signs that the island was no Utopia: schoolgirls falling pregnant to adult men, reports of rapes and abortions, incest, even murder. However, Britain had ignored them, and it was not until 1997 that the first English police officer was posted to Pitcairn.

Gail Cox, a community constable, was sent out to conduct training, and on her first visit was captivated by the place. Although somewhat rough-hewn, the islanders were extremely friendly, and the men performed impressive feats at sea.

It was all very different when Cox returned in 1999. She found the islanders engaged in bitter feuds, and sensed a dark undercurrent in the community. A few weeks later, Belinda and another teenager confided in Cox, saying they had been assaulted by Steve Christian’s son, Randy. Belinda said that, when she was ten, Randy and his younger brother, Shawn, together attacked her, cornering her in a banana grove and taking turns to hold her down and rape her.

Cox, who had never dealt with anything more serious than traffic offences, felt devastated by the grim secrets she had unearthed. Detectives were assigned to the case, and they came across another Pitcairn woman, Catherine*, in Auckland, New Zealand. Catherine told them, “I can’t help you with what you’re investigating, but I was raped myself, when I was ten, by [Belinda’s] father.” She said this was “a common thing on Pitcairn,” observing that “you won’t get a girl reaching the age of 12 that’s still a virgin.”


Bonus: read another article on Wikipedia about the following trial of its defendants.

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