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Child sexual abuse: historical cases in the Byzantine empire (324-1453 A.D.)

Child sexual abuse: historical cases in the Byzantine empire (324-1453 A.D.)


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Child sexual abuse: historical cases in the Byzantine empire (324-1453 A.D.)

By John Lascaratos and Effie Poulakou-Rebelakou

Child Abuse and Neglect, Vol. 24, No. 8 (2000)

Introduction: Child sexual abuse today constitutes an alarming social phenomenon the instances of which, reported daily, appear to be increasingly widespread. Research of historical sources, however, reveals the existence of the problem from antiquity and that the endeavors of the state to combat it were always intense and systematic. In particular, our research into the original texts of Byzantine historians and chroniclers indicates that child sexual abuse flourished even in a religious mediaeval society such as that of Byzantium, a state which comprised the rational continuation of the Roman empire and which was the most important state in the known world for 11 centuries (324 –1453 A.D.). The state with its strict legislation and the church with the spiritual pressures at its disposal both made every effort to restrict this social phenomenon, which in Byzantium took the forms of rape under cover of premature marriages, child prostitution, pederasty, and incest.


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