Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Have S&M in your own bedroom and go to jail

Several Belgian newspapers report how a couple has been handed suspended prison sentences for enjoying S&M in their own bedroom.

bdsm furniture, bondage bed with pillory and o-rings
Not suitable for children under 3 years old.

In a controversial case in 1997 Belgian judge Koen Aurousseau was convicted on similar charges in what since has become the case of the SM Judge. In both cases everything was consensual and both couples filmed and photographed their activities, which was later used in evidence against them. (Note: links are in Dutch).

Why?
The investigation into the couple followed an Austrian inquiry into child pornography. Specialists of the Computer Crime Unit discovered the couple enjoyed sadomasochistic sex on a regular basis after which they were charged with acts of torture, inhumane treatment and beatings. The judge sentenced the husband to 6 months suspended prison sentence and the wife to 4 months suspended prison sentence for the beatings.

"Why?" wonders the husband. "This is 2014. SM is no longer taboo, or is it?"
"We are not convicted of torture but we are convicted for the beatings, we do not get it any more."
"Who has the right to say: "No sir, no ma'am, what you do in the bedroom is not allowed."

One newspaper reports the couple is also convicted of money laundering, public indecency and incitement to prostitution.

Bad press, bad judgement?
Not sure what to make of it. Based on what I read in the news today I find it hard to understand why these two have been convicted. The verdict is confusing.

News related to BDSM is usually bad news. In 2007 a man, who called himself doctor Steve performed unlicensed and bizarre sadomasochistic operations. In 2010 in a high profile case a client accidentally died during a session with a pro domme. This year a dominatrix was murdered by her boss for reasons unknown but possible unrelated to her job. A troubled mother who had previously been in an abusive relationship made her children watch her dominate a  slave in a misguided attempt to show S&M can be love too. Around the same time another mum abused her twelve year old daughter, training her to participate in her sessions with her boyfriend. Finally and a bit more lighthearted: when police entered a house with blinded windows, looking for marijuana plants they discovered an S&M room instead.

The couples' activities were wholly consensual but that clearly slipped the judge's mind. Was he biased by all the negative news, or was there some other reason? Comments in the newspaper show that readers do not understand or appreciate the verdict either. There is a real likelihood this will go on to become a high profile case like the S&M judge before it. Additional explanation is needed why the judge convicted the two for the beatings but not for torture and why those beatings are ground for conviction.  If there is sufficient ground for conviction the law needs to be changed to keep the government out of the bedroom of consenting adults.

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