Added: October 25, 2000 – Last updated: November 16, 2013


Author: Manon van der Heijden

Title: Women as Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence in Seventeenth-Century Holland

Subtitle: Criminal Cases of Rape, Incest, and Maltreatment in Rotterdam and Delft

Journal: Journal of Social History

Volume: 33

Issue: 3

Year: Spring 2000

Pages: 623-644

ISSN: 0022-4529 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1527-1897 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: 17th Century | Dutch History


Link: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Link: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)


Author: Manon van der Heijden, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Universiteit Leiden

Abstract: »This article started with questions about the position of women in criminal cases of rape, incest, and maltreatment in seventeenth-century Holland. Did contemporaries consider women who suffered from rape, incest, and maltreatment as victims of sexual and physical abuse? Furthermore, did honour play any role in these court cases? The purpose of this study was to determine whether raped, assaulted, and maltreated women were viewed as victims by contemporaries. Criminal records show that judges, neighbours, and plaintiffs made significant distinctions among these offenses. According to current views of sexual abuse, raped, assaulted, or maltreated women are without any doubt the victims of their perpetrators. The modern perspective is that victim and perpetrator are prime subjects in such criminal cases. However, seventeenth-century lawyers, judges, plaintiffs, accused, and witnesses did not focus their attention on victim and perpetrator only. Egmond rightly pointed out that judges were also focused on the crime itself. This so-called 'offence-oriented' legal mentality implied that young girls were seen as accomplices or co-offenders in many cases of incest. Furthermore, criminal cases of rape, incest and maltreatment not only concerned the honour and reputation of the victim and the perpetrator, but also of neighbours and family members. Indeed, although the latter did not stand trial or risk conviction, their good reputation was endangered as well.« (Source: Journal of Social History)


  Rape and assault (p. 624)
  Incest (p. 629)
  Maltreatment of wives (p. 633)
  Concluding remarks (p. 635)
  Endnoted (p. 636)