Sexual Abuse of Girls in Post-Revolutionary Mexico

Between Legitimation and Punishment

in Girlhood Studies
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  • 1 Institute of Historical Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM-IIH), Mexico sosenski@unam.mx
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Abstract

In this article, I analyze certain ideas circulating in early twentieth-century Mexico about the sexual abuse of young and adolescent girls, and how ideas about the prohibited, permitted, or legitimate uses of their bodies were sustained by complex webs of corruption and injustice. Not only criminals but also families, lawyers, judges, and police officers commonly considered the bodies of young girls from working-class families as legitimate spaces of sexual violence. Some newspapers also propagated this idea. Prevailing notions about the gender and sexuality of young and adolescent girls fed into family-based concepts of honor and chastity that were reproduced in practices and narratives related to the abuse of children's bodies, and this contributed to the perpetuation of a rape culture among Mexicans.

Contributor Notes

Susana Sosenski (ORCID: 0000-0001-7073-3531) is a research professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico's Institute of Historical Research (UNAM-IIH). Her work explores the history of childhood in Mexico, in particular in relation to child labor, the commercialization of childhood, the history of violence against children, and children's first-hand testimonies. She has published widely on these issues and is currently writing a book on the history of child abduction in Mexico. Email: sosenski@unam.mx

Girlhood Studies

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