The Satedan social structure is heavily dependant upon an informal caste system. To increase efficiency in dealing with the Wraith, the population split itself into fields relevant to the war effort - Military, Medical, and Supply. When a generation had passed and the war showed no sign of ending, a smaller field dealing with Satedan culture emerged (The Artistic Caste).
After thousands of years, the system of voluntary segregation evolved into a caste system. Due to the constant threat of attack and small population, individuals spent their time in official duties; what time existed for socialization was spent with one's co-workers...An individual is sworn into their caste at the beginning of adulthood, the summer of their sixteenth year; with the oath, duty to the caste becomes an individual's highest concern. This loyalty does not extend to romantic liasons or the raising of children; however, inter-caste relationships make up only a small percentage of those who enter into parenting-bonds. Individuals simply do not socialize outside of their own castes with any regularity.
An individual's caste is evidenced by a tattoo on the left side of the neck, which often demonstrates rank as well.
Children are considered the most valuable resource the Satedan people possess. Ever since the beginning of the fight against the Wraith, Sateda has struggled to increase the size of its population (Often barely managing a replacement birthrate due to battlefield losses)...For those in the Military Caste, a child must have two consenting parents at the time of birth (As demonstrated by the signing of a parenting-contract) or be entered into the adoption pool for those unable to birth children.
The reasoning behind the deadline is simple: Given the death rate amongst members of the Military Caste, having two obligated parents provides a higher likelihood of a child reaching maturity with at least one living parent. The practices of the other castes are similar, if somewhat more flexible in deadline for the signing of the parenting-contract (In the Artistic Caste, for example, a contract can be signed anywhere before the end of the mother's two month post-birth obligation period).
There are two unbreakable bonds in Satedan culture: The Bond of Loyalty and the Bond of Parental Obligation.
The Bond of Loyalty is the oath sworn the summer of an individual's sixteenth year that ties him/her to the chosen caste for life. It is during this ceremony that the ritual tattoo is received; as rank within the caste is earned, the tattoo is expanded towards the front of the body.
The Bond of Parental Obligation is the formal title that applies to the signing of the Parenting-Contract. The bond is between parent and child, and the obligation of care extends from the date of the child's birth through the date the child swears the Bond of Loyalty. The bond is often referred to by the alternate title the Bond of Mutual Obligation, as it binds two individuals together in the raising of the child. There are standard sub-clauses in the formal contract, including the formal division of the first two years of the child's life and the state penalties for neglect and mis-treatment.
- In cases of adoption, the division of labor clause is modified to split the first thirteen months evenly between the two parents.
- In cases of inter-caste children, if a parent dies sole obligation falls to the surviving parent. In case of sudden death of both parents, the obligation reverts to the mother's caste.
- In cases of the death of a parent, the surviving parent can choose a new co-parent with the permission of the caste. The surrogate parent signs a parenting-contract which spans the remaining years until the child is sworn into a caste and has all the rights and obligations of a blood-parent.
From the outset, the Satedan Military has had firm fraternization policies in place. As the war wore on, these policies were adopted by the other castes as well. Stiff penalties are in place for any found to be engaging in a romantic liasons with another member of their unit. Units are comprised of members of the same gender so as to prevent preconceptions from limiting an individual's performance. The reasoning behind the policy is simple: Soldiers are required to be objective in the battlefield, and cannot do so when romantic involvement is present.
Author's Note: Thanks to Chloe & SciFi-Freak for helping me to hammer this out.