chapter  4
17 Pages

The individual perspective

Morality and sex crimes
WithIlan Peled

The final chapter examines deviations from the general social convention, that sexual intercourse was only permitted between a man and a woman who were married to one another. Such deviations were deemed illicit: premarital sex, adultery and rape, incest and forbidden kin relations. Other sexual felonies were homosexual intercourse and bestiality, but these were only rarely addressed by official law. Premarital sex endangered the potential financial profit of the household from the future marriage of its daughters and was therefore perceived highly negatively. For this reason, only women’s virginity was addressed by the law, while men’s was utterly ignored. Adultery and rape were two felonies that resulted from essentially the same case: a man who had sexual intercourse with a woman to whom he was not married. The law distinguished between consensual intercourse with a woman married to another man (adultery) and forcible intercourse (rape). Sexual relations between kin members were governed by certain law collections, while others ignored this topic. In all relevant legal sources, the perpetrator was male. Same-sex intercourse and bestiality are the final issues discussed. Both were only rarely addressed by the law, but resulted in harsh sanctions.