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6 Taking a Woman with Force: Rape and Abduction

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyses the link between the two crimes in Swedish medieval legislation. It explores whether abduction and rape should be seen as property crimes or as sexual assaults in the modern sense. Lack of consent is implicit in most crime descriptions, but whose consent? The analysis demonstrates that Swedish law indeed contained several and partly contradictory discourses. The chapter confirms a duality in Swedish law: women were seen as part of a household and essentially treated as property but also as individuals with their own integrity. The chapter argues that although the two crimes, abduction and rape, must be seen as closely related or on a continuum, Swedish medieval laws do distinguish between them. What differentiated them was, indeed, the woman's consent. The woman vacillates in Swedish medieval law between being a person and a part of the property.

Keywords: abduction; property crimes; rape; sexual assaults; Swedish medieval legislation; woman



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