Trials for Sexual Violence in Eighteenth-Century Prussia
Sexual violence against children has not been a topic of marked interest in historical research during the last decades. Using court records of trials for sexual violence against children in 18th-century Prussia, Claudia Jarzebowski examines this subject. Her main focus is on social configurations of power in which – as the sources show – male and female children get abused by men to whom they are related in one way or another: either as a servant, maid or student, or – more often – as the daughter of the master who suffers sexual abuse by the apprentice. First, the author aims to show in which ways and with which consequences the question of power inherent to social relations interferes with the possible success of a trial viewed at from the child. Second, therefore, she aims to decipher the, usually well-hidden, strategies of excluding the child’s perception and presentation of sexual violence. The article concludes with some reflections on how the court records used can be read as documents of legitimizing resp. de-legitimizing 18th centuries children’s perception and experience of sexual violence.