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Gender Differences

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Chapter Summary

This chapter comments on whether laws against sexual crimes issued after the Reformation had particularly negative consequences for women, compared to the state of affairs during the Middle Ages. The Christian laws show that women were criminalized for the whole spectrum of extramarital sexuality during the Middle Ages. The earliest secular laws show that in the pre-Christian period and Early Middle Ages sexuality was predominantly considered a matter of civil law. From a gender perspective it is necessary to stress that the criminalisation of sexuality was not static during the Middle Ages. Until the mid-thirteenth century a development can be witnessed in which various sexual acts as well as marital sexuality during certain times of the year were successively criminalised. Women who engaged in illegal sexual acts were subjected to other forms of sanctions in the form of visible symbols and rituals.

Keywords: civil law; gender perspective; sexual crime



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