Thursday, October 28, 2021

BBC's COPPER: (Pre)Teen Prostitution & Sexual Exploitation in 1860s New York

IMDb didn't share much about the BBC America's Copper (2012) series: "In the 1860s, an Irish-American Civil War veteran joins the New York City police force." 

One can cull a bit more from Copper's Wikipedia page:

The series centers on Kevin "Corky" Corcoran, an Irish immigrant police detective trying to keep the peace in the historical Five Points neighborhood, in 1860s New York City. 

But, IMDb and Wikipedia failed to mention that Copper explores (pre) teen prostitution in 1860s New York City

For example, the pilot opened with Detective Kevin Corcoran gifting Annie, a famished pre-teen prostitute, a cold boiled egg. In response, Annie asked the detective, "Would you like me to pleasure?" Able to resist the allure of a nymphet, Detective Corcoran replied, "No. Child. I don't want that."

Subsequently, Kate, Annie's twin sister, was found dead with jasmine combed through her hair and her vigina filled with semen, but Kate was deflowered after she was killed. 

Annie was found by Detective Kevin Corcoran with a john when the detective gave Annie the news that her twin had been murdered. 

In the second episode, Annie told Detective Corcoran that after John Reilly, her father, died, Contessa Pompidou took her and Kate in because "a certain kind of gentlemen would pay a high price for girls" Annie's age. Annie said, "10 days I was a prisoner."

With the help of an African American physician, Detective Kevin Corcoran was able to deduce that Winfred Haverford, an aristocrat, killed Kate, but a police cover up prevented Haverford from being charged with a crime. 

Later we learned from Annie that John Reilly wasn't her father, but that he was her husband whom she married when she was 10! 

Annie: "My mom left me and Kate with Mr. Reilly when I was 9. When I turned 10, he married me. Claimed it was the law of the land and I had to."

Detective Kevin Corcoran: "The laws says, a girl can consent to marry a man when she's 10-years-old. The law doesn't force a girl to marry. "

Annie: "That's what Contessa said. She said instead, I could have a warm room in her house with chocolates for doing the same things Mr. Reilly made me do."

And we know from Mary E. Odem's Delinquent Daughters that until 1897 the age of consent in California and in most states was 10.

Ultimately, Detective Corcoran promised to protect Annie, but a prostitute betrayed the detective for $100 and took Annie back to Contessa Pompidou to be prepped for Winfred Haverford.  

Annie may or may not have preferred to be a nymphet prostitute, but we can infer that she did prefer to be an independent slash street teen prostitute over working in the Contessa's brothel - despite the warmth and chocolates. 

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