The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Rape of Those Who Cannot be Raped, in Rabbinic Literature

As Hauptman and Irshai have both noticed, in biblical law, the concept of rape applies only to the virgin daughter or the betrothed woman, and the consent that is sought for a sexual act with the woman is that of the father. However, rabbinic literature transforms this understanding and struggles to define sexual encounters that the Bible did not include under this category. These may be sexual encounters between slaves and owners, adults and children, men with married women, or women that are not virgins. This paper would ask what do the rabbis classify as rape, what is the transgressive element in it according to them in the different situations, and what kind of protection and to whom does their system provides before, during, and after the rape, especially in light of Roaman law.