Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: October 1, 2023 - Last updated: October 1, 2023


Speaker: Holly Morse

Title: Seeing Hidden Crimes

Subtitle: Visual Art as Witness to Violence against Biblical Women

Conference: Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (November 18-21, 2023) - Online Program

Session: S20-104: Bible and Visual Art. Theme: Open Session

Place: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Date: November 20, 2023

Language: English

Keywords: Ancient History: Israelite History | Types: Rape; Representations: Religious Texts / Biblical Texts


Link: -


Speaker: Holly Morse, Centre for Biblical Studies, University of Manchester -, ResearchGate, ORCID

Abstract: »Despite the fact that 1 in 3 women globally are subject to physical and/or sexual violence, the harrowing frequency of these offences is met with a woeful rate of conviction rendering the majority of gender-based violence against women and girls invisible, hidden crimes. This lack of visibility of the abuse of women is further compounded by the fact that around 90% of rapes are committed by acquaintances of the victims, and often within the broader context of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence. In many ways, the Hebrew Bible too elides violence against women. With no specific language for rape, with laws that seem to accommodate abuse of female persons, and with accounts of what likely describe violent, sexual attacks on women mired in euphemism and narratorial disinterest, trying to render biblical survivors, and victims, of GBV visible to the reader is often a challenge. In my paper, I want to think about how visual art can help, or hinder, us in acts of witness to the experiences of biblical women at the hands of their abusers, and in turn offer opportunity to think further about tools for moral and ethical readings of ancient authoritative texts in our contemporary world. The first part of this paper will also explore the ways in which biblical art can paint over the horror of rape, thus making the crimes against women like Dinah, Tamar, and the Levite's pilegesh doubly hidden, and worryingly sanitised. By contrast, the second part of the paper will demonstrate how visual art can also, by providing unsettling visual representations of violence against women, act as witness, and in turn help viewers to develop empathetic readings of abused biblical characters.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: Ancient history: History of ancient Israel and Judah | Bible: Hebrew Bible / Rape in the Hebrew Bible | Sex and the law: Rape / History of rape