Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: May 1, 2023 Last updated: May 1, 2023


Speaker: Kelsey Madden

Title: Identifying the Traffic of Captive Women in Roman Conquest Iconography

Subtitle: A Multidisciplinary Approach

Conference: Ancient Rape Cultures: Greek, Roman, Jewish, Christian. International Conference (Organizer: Elina Pyy) - Online Program

Session: Session 7: Imperial Ideology and Colonial Narratives (Chair: Elina Pyy)

Place: Institutum Romanum Finlandiae, Rome, Italy

Date: October 28, 2022

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Roman History | Types: Sex Trafficking, Wartime Sexual Violence; Representations: Art




Speaker: Kelsey Madden, Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, ResearchGate

Abstract: »In Roman conquest iconography, the captive woman was a potent image to reflect and reinforce the power of Roman rule and expansion and signalled the complete destruction of the non-Roman family. Wartime rape gestures depicted on captive women have been recognised by scholars as metaphors for the penetration of foreign lands and peoples by Rome. However, there has been no analysis from the perspective of sex trafficking or an evaluation of how wartime rape was used to define the captive woman in a plurality of ways. What has yet to be fully understood is the purpose of depicting wartime rape gestures, how the Roman audience consumed messages of sexual violence, and what these depictions reveal about the lived experiences of captive women. By analysing gestures and applying feminist film theory to the image, we can better understand the imperialist discourse and how this specific category of imagery was used to measure masculinity. Additionally, wartime rape theory is applied to the specific battles commemorated on the monuments to ascertain the level of brutality afforded to the depicted women and if the art reflects these forced sexual realities. Through this analysis, the trafficking of captive women can be traced in the imagery through scenes of capture, transport, and trophy or triumph display.« (Source:

Wikipedia: Ancient history: Ancient Rome | Art: Roman art | Sex and the law: Sexual violence / Sexuality in ancient Rome Wartime sexual violence | War: Wars involving ancient Rome