Libertarianism is a socio-political philosophy that promotes the idea of Individual liberty and sovereignty above all. However, libertarianism certainly doesn’t support the improbable idea of ‘man is island,’ obviously, no man is island. Yet, libertarianism or better say Voluntaryism espouses a social system based on voluntary decision of individuals to gather and associate with each other, freely, under no duress while rejecting any initiation of violence.
This means that voluntaryism or libertarianism is not about rejection of society; rather it is a call for the refinement and improvement of current social norms which are based on violence and irrational obligations through which, the society as a collective is allowed to harass the individual. A libertarian individual cannot belong to any umbrella of socialism including socialism, communism, feminism or male chauvinism. An individual irrespective of the sex is a free entity with proper natural rights1 .
Every individual should be free to voluntarily associate with any other individual for mutually beneficiary reasons or for personal pleasure. Obviously, one cannot oppose the idea of monogamy, polygamy or polyandry if such relationships are not forced on anybody but they are based on voluntary decisions. Furthermore, as a libertarian, I support the idea of pre-nuptial agreements2 or agreeable contracts between a man and a woman before they indulge in developing a sexual relationship. However, it is certainly not possible to have a written enforceable contract before every casual sexual act and here lies the bone of contention, the onus of pregnancy.
Consensual Sex cannot be termed as Rape in Any circumstances
I want to discuss about a recent case of teen pregnancy in Mumbai, India. A minor girl and a minor boy got involved in sexual intercourse without proper contraceptives and the girl got pregnant3 . The girl was simply unaware of the ways to prevent pregnancy while involving in sexual relationship and the guy convinced her to submit sexually by promising that he will marry her in future and will be responsible for her as a husband. Obviously, the two had no written pre-nuptial contract. After using the girl sexually for 6 months, the guy realized that she cannot abort the child and after seven months, the boy simply vanished. Later on, Mumbai police caught the guy and imprisoned him on charges of rape. Obviously, I am against it. This is certainly not the case of rape, it is a case of consensual sexual relationship and the government police have no right to arrest the boy. Consensual sex cannot be termed as rape in any circumstances. Someone may point out that children are not old enough to legally give consent, nor are people under the influence of mind altering chemicals such as drugs or alcohol, however, none of these cases can be tered as consensual. In this case, the 15 year old girl and the 17 year old boy were obviously evolving a consensual sexual relationship. In a voluntary society, such draconian state cannot exist, or we can say, voluntaryism isn’t possible under the duress of a government with monopoly over initiation of violence.
Onus of Pregnancy
But my issue is about Onus of Pregnancy. The process of pregnancy is a violent one. A fetus grows, consuming ever greater amount of its mother’s body to survive, and pollutes the womb to a near state of toxicity.
A minor girl or any girl cannot sustain the burden of pregnancy at her own.
So, in a voluntary society and in a casual relationship, if the girl is impregnated, will the boy have any ‘intrinsic responsibility’ towards her health during pregnancy?
I mean, she needs medical care, medicines, food, shelter and if her parents are not ready to accept her, she cannot force them. What can she expect from her boyfriend in a voluntary society especially when she feels abortion is killing and she should not abort the child? The guy in this case promised to be a responsible sexual partner but he preferred to ignore his responsibility. The girl has no written contract that may enforce the guy to take the responsibility and to help the girl monetarily to get proper medical aid and protection against chances of miscarriage.
Obviously, the charge of rape against this guy is preposterous, it doesn’t help anybody, but if he just want to flee away, then I don’t think it is right because it is not a case of one-night stand. It is the case where the guy convinced the girl that he will take the responsibility and then denied any responsibility.
The current governmental system has obviously ruined three lives. The guy is in jail and he is a marked rapist, a hard core criminal whom nobody will prefer to give a decent job. The girl is pregnant and she has no way to support her teen pregnancy but to demand help from her parents. And the unborn child is already facing a dark future because his or her father is not ready to take his responsibility and the mother is simply unable.
The issue of teen pregnancy is often considered as an emotional issue however, a voluntary society needs to be based on mutual consent. In this case, the boy is not agreeing to accept the responsibility of his sexual activity because for him, the whole episode was not about reproducing but to enjoy sex. The girl was also just enjoying sex and this pregnancy is certainly an unwanted incidence. A voluntary society based on non-aggression principle may not ban abortions but individuals of such society will certainly oppose the idea of abortion. Also, after a definite time, abortion becomes dangerous for the woman and she may lose her own life.
What would be the ‘Voluntary Solution’ of Teen Pregnancy?
A voluntary society will obviously be much more responsible and different than the current social norms. Sex will not be taboo subject in such a society and people will discuss with their kids about the importance of sexual relationships and contraceptives. Obviously, in such case, teen pregnancy will be a rare case. Yet, if we compare Indian society and the western societies, we will realize that western culture allows much more sexual freedom than Indian society. Yet, western countries including the United States suffer the burning issue of teen pregnancy4 .
In a voluntary system, a case of teen pregnancy and the onus of pregnancy will be solved in much better and easier manner. Obviously, there cannot be anything enforceable against the boy because he actually didn’t rape the girl, he didn’t use any violent means to have sexual relationships with the girl. Furthermore, both of them were ignorant about how to use proper contraceptives. Such cases will be easily solved in a voluntary society by the means of arbitration between the girl and her parents and the boy and his family. The result of such arbitration will differ in different cases and circumstances but the result of such arbitration process will act as a precedent set based on arbitration of such cases. A precedent if set, will act as an intrinsic contract between the girl and boy going to have sexual intercourse. That is, every girl won’t need to worry about having to make a contract before involving in sexual relationship with her boyfriend because there will be a commonly held idea of Onus of pregnancy in such cases. The justice in a voluntary society is agreement between two contending parties.
It will be the right of the girl and the boy to seek for a common ground of agreement in every case and to settle the issue of Onus of pregnancy in such a manner that neither the guy, nor the girl may feel cheated and violated. There cannot be any draconian law in a voluntary society against the boy to jail him and/or punish him monetarily, nor there can be a draconian system that will force the girl to accept pregnancy as her own punishment and responsibility and in most of the cases, the parents of the boy and the girl will be free either to support their kids or not to support them.
I feel I will again discuss this matter of how to solve the issue of teen pregnancy in a voluntaryist society in future.
- Natural Law, Natural Rights and Objectivist Morality, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- Menace of Dowry and its solution, Rational Libertarian Corner [↩]
- 15 years old girl says, I wan’t to deliver my Child, Times of India [↩]
- Teenage Pregnancy, Not out Culture, Indian Homemaker [↩]