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50 Years of Virginity in Rio de Janeiro: Sexual Politics and Gender Roles in Juridical and

Popular Discourse, 1890-1940

Author(s): Sueann Caulfield and Martha de Abreu Esteves
Source: Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 30, No. 1, "Changing Images of the Brazilian Woman: Studies
of Female Sexuality in Literature, Mass Media, and Criminal Trials, 1884-1992" (Summer, 1993),
pp. 47-74
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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50 Years of Virginity
in Rio de Janeiro: Sexual
Politics and Gender Roles
in Juridical and Popular
Discourse, 1890-1940
Sueann Caulfield
Martha de Abreu Esteves


This essay analyzes social/sexual norms and moral values expressed in varying defi-
nitions of sexual offense in the city of Rio de Janeiro under the first Republican penal
code (1890-1940).' It compares two separate research projects, with similar topics but
different time periods. The principle sources consulted are juridical literature on fe-
male honor and sexual crime and 247 court cases-88 from 1904-1911,consulted by Es-
teves, and 159 from 1918-1940,consulted by Caulfield-involving deflowering(sex with
a virgin woman between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, through seduction, deceit
or fraud) and rape (forced sex with an honest woman).2 In rape cases, very few (five) of
the defendants actually used physical force to have sex with the woman against her will.
Usually, the rape cases involved sexual contact between a girl and her boyfriend in
which violence was presumed because the girl was younger than sixteen. In other
words, in the majority of the cases encountered, the offended women were accomplices
in the "criminal act."
We do not use these sources as quantifiable data, but as qualitative and illustrative
evidence.3We are interested, on the one hand, in exploring change and continuity in
jurisprudence and in major debates in juridical literatureand court cases with regards
to standards of sexual morality. As we will demonstrate, juridical discourse produced
and disseminated standards of honesty and behavior in general in the process of con-
structing "guilt" and "innocence."
On the other hand, these criminal records allow us to enter into contact with an-
other world, that of the offended women, the accused men, and the witnesses. Despite
the considerable awkwardnessof their confrontations with portentous authorities, the
testimony of these individuals opens a window into the intimacy of their private lives.
Who were these people appearing to file a complaint or testify? Here lies one of the
most fascinating aspects of criminal records in general: the possibility they provide for
immersion into popular culture of the past.4Well-to-do families generallyresolved their
sexual digressions in the privacy of their homes. Only women and men from poor

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48 Luso-BrazilianReview30:1

families-domestic servants, factory workers, laundresses, day-laborers, policemen,

soldiers and shop employees-saw their sexual problems discussed in police stations
and courtrooms.
Our documentation, then, allows us to addressdifficult questions of continuity and
change in popular moral values and family organization over fifty years. The fact that
defloweringwas among the most frequent crimes tried throughout this period provides
an important clue for thinking about the relationship between common people and le-
gal institutions.5 The volume of records of complaints of "lost honor" by offended
women (or their families, employers, neighbors or even policemen) suggests not only
that common people sought the intervention of legal institutions in these matters, but
that police and judicial officials took a special interest in transformingthese complaints
into criminal cases.
Feminine honor was one of the principle elements at stake in these cases. Since fem-
inine honor was based on the polemical definition and determination of virginity, we
center our analysis on how virginity itself was discussed and understood within the ju-
dicial apparatus and by protagonists in conflicts over its loss.


"Respect for the honor of women is not a sentiment innate in man, but
rather a conquest of civilization, the victory of moral ideas over the
brutality of the instincts."
F. J. Viveiros de Castro6

Following the logic of this famous jurist of the late nineteenth century, Brazilian
"civilization"had been conquering "the brutality of the instincts" at least since the co-
lonial period. Under the Philippine Code, any "carnal conjunction" with an unmar-
ried female virgin or honest widow younger than twenty-five, with or without violence,
was a crime. The Code did not distinguish clearly between morality and law, or sin and
crime, which demonstratesthe persistence of canonical influence in colonial law. None-
theless, according to Viveiros de Castro, this law distinguished colonial Brazil from
"primitive peoples" and antiquity, which cultivated prostitution and moral corrup-
It was only in the eighteenth century that European Enlightenment law began to
recover the Roman maxim 'fornicatiosimplexdejurecivileprohibitanonest" by specifying
that only certain "carnal conjunctions" were criminal and delineating conditions un-
der which sexual contact with a virgin woman would be considered an assault on femi-
nine honor. In Brazil, the conquest of "civilization" was demonstrated by more than
political independence in 1822. The 1830 penal code followed European "advances"
closely, showing juridical progress in defending feminine honor. It guaranteed, at the
very least, that women "capable" of having honor to defend would be protected. The
penal code would no longer punish any "carnal conjunction" with a virgin woman. If it
did not involve violence ("violent rape"-article 222), sexual contact would be consid-
ered a crime against feminine honor only if the woman had been a virgin younger than
eighteen (article 219), or if she were honest and could prove that she had been seduced
(article 224). While the 1830 code established these requirements and conditions, how-

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Caulfield/Esteves 49

ever, it left them poorly defined and confusingly dispersed among different articles.
Furthermore, the courts produced no jurisprudence to correct these imprecisions.
The republican penal code was the first to distinguish between the principal crimes
against feminine honor: rape and deflowering. It categorized these crimes in four artic-
les (267, 268, 269, and 276) and delineated some of the conditions that comprised
them.8 More significantly, turn-of-the-centuryjurists, trained in the positivist spirit of
"order and progress," clarified and systematized the legal defense of feminine honor,
considering it a bulwark of the family, and by extension, the nation.9
Viveiros de Castro'spioneering books AssaultsonDecencyand CrimesAgainsttheHonor
of Women,both published at the end of the nineteenth century, demonstrate in exem-
plary fashion the desire to contribute to the reorganization of the free and republican
fatherlandby studying the problems that affected the family. But it was the renowned
republicanjurist and statesman Ruy Barbosa who best articulated the association be-
tween the family and the nation:

The Fatherland (A Pdtria)is the family enlarged. And the family, di-
vinely constituted, has honor, discipline, fidelity, affection, sacrifice as
an organic element [sic]... Multiply the family and you will have the

To understand the "conquests of civilization" attained by the 1890 penal code and
the preoccupations of the most eminent jurists of the epoch, it is important to consider
the influence of the positivist school of juridical thought among Brazilianjurists. For
the positivists, crime should not be defined in the abstractor as a simple act, but should
be studied scientifically on the basis of the physical, moral and social attributes of the
criminal. Sentencing should not be merely retributive, but should take into consider-
ation the need to protect society and the dangerousness of the criminal, measured
through observation of her/his behavior and psychology."
Above all, however, it is crucial to situate these "conquests" in the context of the
transformationsthat Brazilian society had been undergoing since the mid-nineteenth
century, when the transition from slave to free labor became an urgent concern. With
abolition of slavery in 1888, public measures of social control were expanded and ad-
justed to a society of "free men," particularlyin the Capital, Rio de Janeiro. The 1890
penal code was one of several important legal instruments for disciplining the labor
force and disseminating a positive ideology of work.'2
This ideology was accompanied by the diffusion of norms of hygiene and "good"
manners among the population, in which doctors played an important role.'3The goal
was to convince workersto adopt habits of domestic routine, assume the responsibilities
of the home and abandon "sexual deviation," at least enough to avoid illegitimate
births. How was such a challenging task to be achieved if the largely illiterate popula-
tion brought to the Republic the "vices of slavery,"a "sexual temperament," and a
"sensual character, perhaps due to the influence of the tropical climate, the heavy
foods, the heredity of two races mixed through miscegenation"?'4
For the majorjurists of the "belleipoque"and their heirs of the 1920s and 1930s, the
courts would have an important role in the organization of sexual policies by more ef-
fectively punishing sexual crime, which presented such a gravethreat to feminine honor

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50 Luso-Brazilian

and, above all, "civilization" and society. Cases of sexual crime certainly providedju-
rists a fantastic pedagogic opportunity for identifying and divulging social and sexual
roles that should be esteemed and promoted or punished and marginalized. Not only
were poor workers the protagonists in these cases, but the incidents were widely dis-
cussed by their neighbors and were often reported in newspapers.
The 1890 penal code established the basis for this politics of sexual control by sys-
tematizing sexual crime and extending the age limit for offended girls in the crime of
deflowering(from seventeen to twenty-one). The defense of feminine honor would al-
low jurists to regulate sexual relationships and establish the family as the foundation of
social order. This intention was evident in the title of the section on sexual crime: "Of
Crimes Against the Security of Family Honor and Honesty and of Offense of Public
Morality."The 1830 penal code had only referred to sexual crimes that offended the
"Security of Honor." As judge Galdino Siqueira explained in one of his volumes on
Brazilian law published in the first decades of the twentieth century, the 1890 title ex-
plicitly expressed "the goal of conserving social organization based upon the legally
and morally constituted family."15
However, while the 1890 penal code helped refine the exigencies of law, it retained
imprecisions that requiredjurisprudential clarification. It was there that the law would
be interpreted by hopeful republican reformerswho sought to extend "civilization" to
the entire social body through defense of female honor. To punish better, for jurists,
meant to reduce the uncertainties and insecurity of judges, prosecutors and lawyers
faced with the lack of clear, uniform and solid principles for applying the law.
The Penal Code specified criminal means of deflowering (seduction, deceit or
fraud)but did not define them. Even the term "deflowering" was problematic because
of difficulties defining the conditions of virginity (physical or moral?) and, conse-
quently, honesty. Elements of subjective interpretation were therefore inevitable and
hindered the separation of law and morality.A woman who aspired to repair the dam-
age done by an offense to her honor would therefore have to articulatea convincing dis-
course regarding her honesty, in which there was no middle-ground between the
hygienic ideal of the honest mother and its inverse, the dishonest prostitute.16 In police
stations and courtrooms, both concepts were continually defined and re-defined
through variables such as a woman's habits in going out (where, when, and with whom
were essential data), the place she lived, her family and its vigilance over her, her gen-
eral conduct and even the form of her body. To achieve the status of "offended" in a
defloration case, the would-be victim had to prove that she deserved to be protected,
that is, that she was sufficiently "honest" and "virgin" to have been offended in her
honor. This was not easy, since defense lawyers used various kinds of evidence to por-
tray the woman as dishonest or "prostituted" (though not a prostitute in the strict
sense). JNE's lawyer, for example, argued in 1907 that JC, a black domestic servant
who accusedJNE of defloweringher, "was already prostituted" because she "went out
alone late at night, dressed in carnival costumes, took the company of boys and spent
the night away from her home without her employer's knowledge. The fact that JC
went out with the intention of not going home to sleep and sought the accused to have
sexual relations... is enough to prove that she was not a virgin, she was already prosti-
tuted!"17Thus, not only sexual behavior, but actions such as going out alone, masquer-
ading, being in the "wrong" company, and even having the wrong thoughts ("the
intention of not going home") were cited as proof of a woman's lack of virtue.

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Caulfield/Esteves 51

In considering the actions taken by police and juridical authorities to control popu-
lar morality and punish crimes of defloration under the 1890 penal code, three impor-
tant issues stand out: the jurisdiction of the jury tribunal, the complicated definition of
virginity, and the problematic specifications of seduction. The latter, in particular,
served as criteria for determining moral honesty/virginity and could justify the protec-
tion of a woman who had committed an act condemned by "civilization."'8
After 1911,by decree 9263, sexual crimes would no longer be tried before juries.
Judges, who had previously decided whether the case would go to trial, were now re-
sponsible for the final verdicts and the definition of the "locale" of honesty. They be-
came the final link of a long chain formed by police officials, witnesses, doctors of legal
medicine, lawyersand prosecutors,joined to produce "innocent" or "guilty" subjects.
The changes brought about by the new role of judges are illustratedin Table I. Of
the cases that went to trial (excluding those which were dismissed because they were
judged invalid or because the couple married), there was a significant proportional in-
crease of convictions and decrease of acquittals. Verdictsbegan to more often reflect the
criteria of lofty judicial authorities than the common benevolence of jury members (all
men and usually civil servants) in questions of masculine behavior. Once this auton-
omy in passing verdicts was established, the judiciary could intervene more effectively
in punishing "reproachable" habits and disseminating values and behavior that de-
served to be condemned or encouraged. Judicial authorities took on the responsibility
of protecting honest girls, guaranteeingthe future of single mothers, forcing marriages
(even in cases of questionable feminine honesty), disregarding legal formalities or pun-
ishing boys/men who needed to learn to respect feminine honor.
Protection of both feminine honor, sanctioned by the 1830 code, and of the honesty
of families, included in the 1890 code, was associated with female virginity. But while
secure in symbolic terms, virginity proved very difficult to pin down after the opening
of a criminal case. What criteria could be used to evaluate a prior state of virginity and
Article 267 of the penal code, with the very term that defined the crime, "deflora-
tion," equated virginity to the rupture of the hymenal membrane. Centered there were
a series of controversialdebates between those who defended the position that the mem-
brane's "integrity" proved virginity (Galdino Siqueira and Joao Vieira) and those who
disagreed, arguing that it was not rareto find pregnant women with intact hymens (Vi-
veiros de Castro, Macedo Soares, Souza Lima, Nina Rodrigues). Up until the 1920s,
the issue provoked prolific debate. The problem could not be easily resolved through
medical knowledge, since legal-medical researchwas rudimentary when the penal code
was elaborated. Deflowering examinations, performed by male physicians at the Insti-
tute of Forensic Medicine and obligatory in cases of rape or deflowering, were done
precariously,hymens were described imprecisely, and there was much confusion over
medical determination of hymenal "integrity" and the time passed since the deflo-
Nonetheless, many jurists defended the idea that the law should not be criticized
because Brazilians were great "hymenophiles."'9Siqueira believed that "popular and
traditionalintuition" was correct in considering hymenal rupture to be the determining
factor in a virgin woman's loss of honor. Moreover, he said, this "intuition" was not
unique to Brazilians, who "received [the intuition] from other [peoples], who are like-
wise hymenophiles."20

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52 Luso-BrazilianReview30:1

An example of the valorization of the hymen in defining virginity and the lack of
technical knowledge about the relationship between the complacent hymen (a highly
elastic hymen that does not rupture easily), medical determination of the date of the
deflowering, and virginity, is the argument of MOS's lawyer in 1905, in which he com-
mented on a deflowering examination that found the offended woman's hymen to be

One does not need a degree in Medicine to know that a woman who
copulated for the first time loses blood from her sexual parts; that a
woman... copulating only once, does not have a considerably dilated
vagina...nor 'flaccid breasts and labia.' This after twenty-two days
[since copulation], which means that either she had previously copu-
lated, which is very probable given the home in which she resides, or
she copulated afterwards.21

The offended woman in this case was not only obliged to endure the violence of a legal-
medical examination, but was afterwardsaccused of not being honorable because of the
medical description of her anatomy.
Afranio Peixoto's research, disseminated primarily in the 1920s, marked a turning
point in the legal-medical interpretation of virginity. Material evidence of hymenal
rupture would no longer be fundamental to the configuration of sexual crime. Peixoto,
revealing a great variety of hymens, clarified the confusion generated by the "compla-
cent hymen." His researchupset severalaxioms of juridical and medical discourse con-
cerning the female body. Against the belief that flaccidity of female sexual parts was
evidence of frequent sexual activity, Peixoto used photographic evidence to show that
"there are an infinite number of virgins who have fallen breasts and there are even
prostitutes who have small, firm and consistent ones."22Other images of the immacu-
late virgin body, frequently evoked in juridical discourse, featured suffering, pain and
blood loss at the moment of defloration. While Peixoto was not conclusive on this ques-
tion, he did at least indicate that the images were not based on solid evidence. Rather,
he argued, the level of pain and quantity of blood were seldom excessive and varied
from one woman to another. Peixoto debunked even the time-honored theory that the
frequency of use of the female sexual apparatus could be determined by greater or
lesser vaginal dilation.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the twilight of the 1890 penal code, the ideal body and phys-
ical sensations (great pain) of the pure virgin female were considerably shaken. Con-
versely, it was also no longer possible to speak of the physical traits of a prostituted
body. The penal code of 1940 would incorporate these changes, substituting the term
"defloration"with "seduction" (article 217). Between the ideal virgin body and that of
the prostitute, there existed many other possibilities-as was evidenced by the coura-
geous presence of poor girls in the police stations and medical examining rooms. Their
bodies and their testimony, by denying various facets of the virginal ideal, revealed dif-
ference and variety.
If the link between physical virginity and an integral hymen was always problem-
atic, and if the material evidence in a crime of defloration could no longer be based
upon bodily flaccidity, pain and bloodshed, or hymenal rupture, other indications had
to be considered. The would-be offended woman's prior state of virginity could only be
substantiatedby an examination of her moral behavior. Did she meet the conditions of

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Caulfield/Esteves 53

honesty that would make it possible for her to be seduced and dishonored? That is, did
she go out seldom and only when chaperoned? What places did she frequent? Where
did she live? Did she have a hygienic family watching over her? Did she give in to im-
pulses, or did she reflect upon her actions? Was the defendant a long-time boyfriend?
The notion of virginity had far surpassed physical limits.
It was Viveiros de Castro who first sought to define the conditions under which a
"carnal conjunction" would constitute a crime of deflowering. The law would protect a
girl who had suffered seduction, deceit or fraud, but, Viveiros advised, a seduction
complaint would only be accepted if it involved an unkept "promise of marriage."Of
course, it could not be just any promise, but must be formal and serious; only then was
it understandablethat an honest women would "give in," because "it [the promise] ex-
erts great influence upon the spirit of women."3
Beginning in the 1920s, however,new kinds of interpretationemerged, defended in
the work of Galdino Siqueira and Silvio Romero. Seduction came to be understood not
only as a promise of marriage but also in its vulgar sense: a "supplication," "blandish-
ment" or "disorienting influx."24No longer was the marriage promise the sole influ-
ence over women. Words, caresses, kisses and insinuating contacts could awaken the
"unfamiliar play of passion." Uncontrollable bodily sensations could also excuse a
woman's "fall" and would be justified through the new juridical concept of "inexperi-
ence." Defending these arguments, Siqueira, while insisting that different characteris-
tics defined men and women, recognized the need to protect feminine sexual instincts:

He succeeded, because he disoriented her, awakening the latent pruri-

tus of natural voluptuousness, pudency and the consciousness of his
victim. And the arousal is naturallyeasy, because the man is physically
characterizedby intellectual development and the woman by gentleness
of the sentiments, which renders her highly impressionable. For this
reason, without great difficulty she takes on desiressimilarto thoseof the
man.If this were not so, to what would the law's favoring of the inexpe-
rience of the minor girl be reduced? (our emphasis)."

Clearly, the objectives that inspired the jurists of the 1890s to punish crimes against
feminine honor did not change. Nor did jurists cease to consider women's overall con-
duct along with other criteria for determining honesty. But, significantly, sexual inex-
perience (seen as innocence, chastity, modesty, fragility,ignorance of sexual fire, lack of
power to evaluate the consequences of her act, etc.), came to be emphasized. Conse-
quently, the notion of the honest woman was broadened to include the possibilty that
she possessed desires, instincts, and inclinations towardpleasure. The women who, due
to inexperience, was unable to control these desires could be considered honest and
thus deserving of protection-provided she knew to direct them solely towards mar-
The penal code of 1940 incorporatedthese changes in replacing the crime of "deflo-
wering" with "seduction" (article 217), and defining it as follows:

To seduce a virgin woman, younger than eighteen and older than four-
teen and have with her a carnal conjunction, taking advantage of her
inexperience or justifiable trust.26

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54 Luso-Brazilian

While the images of the "honest woman" and the "prostitutedwoman" remained
as paradigmsin juridical discourse and in the practice of producing guilty and innocent
subjects, the distance between them was greatly reduced. Recognizing the nonexistence
of a pure and ideal body, admitting that a woman could possess sexual instincts and re-
main honest, or not considering women's circulation in increasingly broad areas of
public space to be dishonest, the jurists of 1940 redefined the narrow standards of hon-
esty. They seemed to assimilate the great diversity of lifestyles and moral and sexual
norms that the protagonists of criminal cases imposed upon them in the police stations
and courtrooms. Not all defloweredgirls who sought the police were prostitutes or "ex-
ploiters" of rich men.27Rather, as we will see in Part III, girls who filed complaint of a
crime of defloration testified to the existence of moral diversity and the failure of
broader policies of sexual control aimed at the entire social body.
Nonetheless, many jurists, such as Darcy Campos de Medeiros and Aroldo Mo-
reira, writing with the hindsight of the late 1960s, claimed that the changes in the 1940
penal code reflected a new "averagesocial behavior" and "averagemoral standard,"re-
sulting from the "modernism" of the times and from new liberties, "principally of girls
of the upper social strata."28"Modern girls," the jurists held, without giving up their
honesty, frequented "factory floors, public offices and commercial stores,"learning of
the secrets of sex very early.
It is true that sexual legislation of 1940 reflected an effort to raise Brazilian law to
the level of "modern times."Jurists who elaborated the 1940 Penal Code adapted it to
contemporarymedical knowledgeabout the hymen as well as to new conditions of pub-
lic life for women, especially those of the privileged sectors. The work of feminist move-
ments was instrumental in helping to create these new conditions. But we should not
forget that many of the feminine "conquests" that broadened the concept of the honest
woman after the decade of the twenties were present in the life experience of girls of the
popular sectors at the end of the nineteenth century.
What strange criteria formed the "averagemorality" of each period? At the begin-
ning of the republican period, the lives of girls of the popular sectors were not taken
into consideration;after 1940, the concept of the honest woman became more "elastic"
and "complacent," particularlywith respect to the new liberties of "girls of the upper
social strata."Jurists did not admit the possibility that the failure of a politics of sexual
control and the reduction of the distance between the images of the "honest" and the
"prostituted" woman resulted from their recognition of the existence of diverse sexual
behavior and cultural values within the same society.


If juridical discourse delineated coherent female identities through categories of

"honest" and "dishonest," the discourse in testimonies of deflowered women, their
parents, witnesses and defendants challenged that coherence, constructing female iden-
tities that did not fit neatly into either category. In fact, in the records of sexual crime
analyzed, we found a remarkablepersistence of a set of moral values and social norms
that regulated sexual behavior among the poor and contradictedthose of the judicial
system and the law.
The records do not reveal observable differences in values and norms for different
racialor ethnic groups found in the records (see Table II).29This lack of ethnic differen-

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Caulfield/Esteves 55

tiation probably represents the limitations of these sources, which do not register sys-
tematically or comprehensivelyevery aspect of the value systems under study. What the
sources do register, however,are certain commonalities in behavioral patterns and atti-
tudes of poor women and men of different ethnic backgrounds that distinguish their
value system from that of juridical discourse.
This does not mean that the cultural language of the poor and that of judicial au-
thorities were so different as to be mutually incomprehensible. The very existence of
cases of defloration is evidence that there were important reference points in common,
although the significance of those references varied. Examining the significance of fe-
male virginity in the testimonies found in defloration cases illustrates this point. Vir-
ginity is particularly fascinating as a concept for identifying female types, as it
involved, in the reigning mentality of authorities and the general population alike, a
material element (an integralhymen), which theoretically allowedfor objective verifica-
tion, as well as a more enigmatic moral element. Understood as not only a moral ideal
but also a material possession, virginity functioned both as an instrument of social dis-
cipline manipulated by diverse authorities, and, in the hands of many of the young
women involved in defloration cases, a strategic device used against that same disci-
To open defloration cases, poor young women, their parents or guardians, or their
employersappealed to the police and the courts for arbitrationin disputes involving the
women's virginity, usually with the hope that the authorities would pressure or force
their deflowerers to marry them. The relationship between the offended women and
the defendants varied greatly, ranging from casual acquaintance to formal engagement.
The conflicts that "acabaram napolicia" (ended up at the police station) likewise erupted
for a variety of reasons: the defendant abandoned the girl, or found another girlfriend;
the couple argued; gossip about the deflowering began to circulate in the neighbor-
hood; the girl's parent or employer found out about the deed; the couple ran away to-
gether; the girl ran away alone; the girl became pregnant; etc. The proposed resolution
of virtually all of these precarioussituations was the couple's marriage. Almost all of the
deflowered girls claimed that this had been promised them by the defendant.
During the investigationinto the defendant's moral responsibilityfor the complain-
ant's loss of honor, which consisted primarily of gathering opinions of people ac-
quainted with either party, police stations and courts became a forum for discussion of
concepts of female virginity and "honesty."The deflowering records thus allow for an
analysis of how these concepts were understood within the value system constructed in
the language of those questioned by police and judges (including the accused men, the
offended women, their parents/guardians, and witnesses for both sides).
The loss of virginity appeared as a critical event in a single woman's life, provoking
gossip in her neighborhood and warrantingan action as severe as a lawsuit against the
deflowerer.Euphemisms used for defloration suggest that a single deflowered girl was
seen as both victimized and stigmatized. The most common were that the girl was "dis-
graced" or "dishonored." Creative metaphors sometimes expressed the same idea: a
deflorationwas "a stain that could never be removed," "an infelicity" or "a monstros-
There were also cases of young women like fifteen-year-oldGF, a white, illiterate
domestic servant, who sought to escape this sort of stigma by going to the police and the
Legal-Medical Institute (where the state of hymens was determined in a "defloration
exam," one of the most frequent exams done in the Institute) to prove she was a virgin,
"despite what people from [her neighborhood] said about her."3'

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56 Luso-BrazilianReview30:1

The deflowered girls, almost without exception, expressed an understanding and

often an acceptance of the concept that proof of their virginity was a prerequisite for
marriage. Of course, it is logical that women who were aware of the legal meaning of
"defloration" and who hoped to earn the "protection" of the court would create an
identity compatible with the court's definition of an honest woman, as they understood
it. Prompted by police officials who, versed in the legal definition of the crime, recorded
their initial testimony, deflowered women almost always asserted that they had con-
sented to having sex only -'on the basis of a marriage promise" ("sobpromessade casa-
mento'). They usually denied having had previous boyfriends and sometimes insisted
that they were closely policed by parents or guardians. Typically,they described their
first sexual encounter as painful and bloody and their behavior as passively submissive.
The bloodshed and pain diminished over time, corresponding to the greater recogni-
tion of the complacent hymen after the diffusion of Afranio Peixoto's studies. While of-
fended women reported pain and hemorrhaging throughout the period, the earlier
reports were more extreme. At the turn of the century, women commonly described
blood that "stained all of [their] clothing" and pain that lasted longer than a day.32
Women of the twenties and thirties described more moderate reactions, such as "some
pain, but not much... and [she noticed] a small blood stain" or even no pain or bleed-
ing.33Judges did not give up attempts to grasp on to objective "material evidence" of
truth and falsity, however.Judge Alvaro Bernardes, in 1934, decided that CS's testi-
mony was discredited because she testified feeling pain and losing blood while the
Legal-Medical Institute examination found her hymen to be complacent, "when it is
known that [complacent hymens] permit painless and bloodless copulation."34In con-
trast, in our samples, there was no relationship between the girls' reports of pain and
bloodshed and the configuration of their hymens.
Aside from diminishing intensity of pain and bloodshed, offended women through-
out the samples used suspiciously similar language in denying any active role in the
"crime." Defloration was done to the woman, if not exactly against her will, at least
without her participation. Most descriptions vary only slightly from that of SF, a
fifteen-year-oldblack daughter of a washerwoman, who stated in 1908:

A... grabbedher, laid her down on the bed and held his hand over her
mouth so that she wouldn't scream, pushed up her clothing and intro-
duced in her vagina his virile member causing her pain and hemor-

It is probable that in many cases police recorders "helped" the young women re-
count their experience. But even taking into account this intervention, their testimony
revealedthe existence of a social code in which virginity or lack of it defined a woman's
identity and determined her marriageability.
The workings of this code were expressed clearly in the case against LC, a thirty-
year-old textile workeraccused of defloweringhis cousin, twenty-one-year-oldECC in
1927. ECC's mother, PRC explained the situation:

... her daughter had been courted for the past year by JBC, who re-
cently wanted to marry Emilia;... only then was ECC obliged to con-
fess to the declarant that she couldn't marry JBC because her cousin
and the declarant'snephew LC, one year ago, had defloweredEmilia.36

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Caulfield/Esteves 57

Seventeen-year-old,white EN also found a suitor (ACM, a twenty-two-year-oldPortu-

guese commercial employee) after she was deflowered, but "did not take him seriously,
as she knew she could not marry him since she had already been deflowered by S."3
In both of these cases, the suitors' rescinded their marriage proposals upon hearing
their fiancees' "confessions." There were, however, cases in which the deflowered girl
married a third party while the case against her deflowererwas underway,which sug-
gests that some men, unlike ECC's and EN's fiances, did accept marriage to women
they encountered deflowered.38Nevertheless, the belief that a woman was eligible for
marriage only to the man who first "possessed" her was not solely a product of judicial
logic, but was present in the minds of many of the deflowered women in our sample,
whether as an absolute value they ascribed to or as a recourse that could be manipu-
lated for various ends.
As a group, it was not the deflowered women, but ratherthe male defendants who
were most severe in their moraljudgments and who expressed values that most neatly
coincided with those of judicial authorities. Defendants generally admitted having had
sex with the offended woman but defended themselves by portraying her as dishonest
prior to their contact. Often aided by lawyers, defendants argued that the girl or her
family was "disorderly" and "not educated in an atmosphere conducive to modesty,"
that she frequented dance halls, clubs, or, what was worse, popular carnival balls, that
she went out alone and stayed out late, or that she had numerous boyfriends. There
were changes during the period studied in descriptions of "dishonest" behavior, which
reflectedthe progressiveexpansion of public space occupied by "honest" women in Rio
de Janeiro and the continued attempts of public authorities to physically segregate
them from "dishonest" women (it was in the twenties that these efforts finally material-
ized in the creation of Mangue, Rio's famous prostitution zone). While at the turn of
the century, the defense often used evidence that the woman habitually went out unac-
companied to indicate she was dishonest, in the twenties and thirties emphasis was on
the impropriety of the hours and places she frequented.39
Several defendants used a physiological definition of honesty, asserting that they
"verified" that the girl was not a virgin by having sex with her. Some, like the twenty-
year-old cashier FSF, were explicit about their verification method: "she was not a vir-
gin since the sexual contact occurred without her feeling pain or losing blood and [he
had] no difficulty of any kind in introducing his virile "member".' In many of these
cases, the defendants had demanded "proof of virginity" as a condition for marriage.
This defense strategywas based on a moral standard that allowed men to engage in
sexual relations with impunity, as long as their partners were not virgins or someone
else's wife." It was considered only natural, furthermore, that a man would have sex
when the opportunity (a non-virgin woman) presented her-/itself. ES's lawyer ex-
pressed this concept clearly in 1927, when he argued that since 15-year-oldECD's will-
ingness to have sex with 19-year-oldES after an acquaintance of one afternoon proved
she was immoral and dishonorable, ES, in doing the same, "did what any man of his
age and marital status would do without reluctance."42
Obviously, these appeals to the double standard and construction of the dishonest
woman can be partially explained by the defendants' familiarity with the moral codes of
legal authorities and desire to escape marriage or prison. Defendants often cast moral
judgements that they may not have upheld outside the police station or courtroom.
Nevertheless, the valorization of female virginity and the belief that exclusive sexual
possession of a woman was a husband's right and a condition for formal marriage was

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58 Luso-Brazilian

expressed by defendants in so many different contexts that it is impossible to dismiss it

as produced solely for the authorities.
Whatever the reason, most alleged "deflowerers"testifying before police and judi-
cial authorities performed the role of the so-called machista moralist, upholding a dou-
ble standard of sexual discipline, the concept of sexual "possession" of women and
differentiatedand unequal gender norms. This role dovetailedwith constructionsof the
passive female victim in statements of offended women and their defenders (parents
and witnesses). Taken at face value, many of the statements in testimonies-and the
performancesof these roles-would seem to support a Foucaultian thesis of power, in
which the subject of discipline "becomes the principle of his own subjection."43 In other
words, the poor population targeted by the judicial system's disciplining efforts seemed
to replicate its sexual ideologies in their testimonies.
The same testimonies, however, contain contradictions that make it impossible to
classify the performersand their value system within the gender roles constructed in ju-
ridical discourse. To paraphraseJudith Butler, their performancesexposed the contra-
dictions that arose from attempts to construct gender identities in response to diverse
demands and interests.44In the texts produced in defloration cases, the demands and
interests derive from two systems of signification with diverse and malleable areas of
convergence: that of judicial authorities and that of popular culture. If testimonies at
times accommodated a sexual ideology compatible with that of the judicial system, at
other times-or simultaneously-declarants rejected many aspects of the morality dis-
seminated by the courts in favorof a different value system, also complex and at times
contradictory.We have demonstratedabove that the two systems were not alwaystotally
incompatible. Their points of divergence, however, resulted in the construction of
subjects/identitiesthat were incoherent, particularlyfrom the point of view of authori-
ties for whom social discipline and order depended upon identifying fixed, legally-
definable subjects. Performancesof protagonistsin deflorationcases thereby challenged
the universalityof fixed categoriesof human types, or, more specifically,of the precepts
that underlaid the sexual morality and gender roles entrenched in law.
Indications that the significance of virginity in popular culture differed from that of
legal discourse can illustrate how this subversion of universal moral codes operated
within the texts of court records. These indications can be found even in testimony of
the men who seemed to most closely replicate the sexual ideology of the authorities. For
example, the concept that a virgin girl should feel shame at exposing her body and sub-
mitting to her man's lascivious passions appearsfrequently in judges' statements, but is
absent from defendants' testimony. Also absent is the honest/dishonest dichotomy in
which a non-virgin woman was understood to be prostituted. Defendants characterized
their accusers as prostitutesin only four of the cases analyzed. More typical was the tes-
timony of AP, who, as a witness asked to comment on ECS's moral standing, responded
that "his impression was that she wasn't a prostitute but she wasn't a virgin either."45
Despite a valorization of virginity, then, a deflowered woman was not necessarily
associated with The Prostitute. Nor was she seen as antithetical to The Mother. Two
cases will illustrate. The first is that of twenty-eight-year-oldEMB. In 1922, he "made
a home" ("montouumacasa")to live in with his fiancee, fifteen-year-oldDS, a pardado-
mestic servant, with whom he had two children. Two yearslater, when DS's fatherinsti-
gated a deflorationcase against him, ostensibly because he hadn't fulfilled his promise
to marry DS (but actually because he left her after living with her for two years), EMB
defended himself with the following story:

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Caulfield/Esteves 59

... the first time he had sex with her he noted she was not a virgin, and
upon his severe interrogation, DS informed him that she had taken her
own virginity by inserting a candle into her vagina;... he therefore re-
solved not to marry her but instead to live with her.6

In the second case, JMV gave the following testimony in 1928:

... in October of last year, the declarant began courting the minor I,
whom he intended to marry;... in Februaryof this year, having sexual
relations with I, he verified that she was not a virgin;... interrogating
I, she, after some reluctance, ended up confessing that she had been
defloweredby her brother-in-lawS, when she was twelve years old;...
for this reason the declarantresolved not to marry her, but to live mari-
tally with I, in the house he gave as his residence.47

JMV's involvement with the police was limited to his testimony as a witness in the de-
floration case against her brother-in-law.
These cases, and others involving couples that lived together, contain values that
were contradictory in the logic of judicial authorities. The "hymenophilia" that, ac-
cording to judicial experts, characterizedthe "average morality" of Brazilian society
was accompanied by the defendants' willingness to accept exclusive unions and form
households and families with non-virgin women, which was immoral in the eyes of the
courts. The sexual "education" the courts sought to disseminate was aimed precisely at
curbing informal conjugal relationships by either forcing men to formalize them or
marginalizing women who accepted them from "honorable" society. Clearly, the atti-
tudes of the men in the examples above did not further the authorities' project.
Defendants were not the only ones whose position undermined attempts to con-
vince the population that "living together" was immoral. In fact, casual attitudes about
this issue in the testimonies as a whole present some of the most conspicuous contradic-
tions in the value system(s) at work in defloration cases. Many of the parents and wit-
nesses who testified that the offended girl was honest and therefore deserving of
marriage, and even those who expressed the most concern that the girl would be "dis-
graced" if she did not marry, were themselves living in consensual unions. There were
severalcases in which couples moved in with the woman's family after her defloration,
usually with the understanding that marriage would follow. Generally, these case
reached the police not because of problems inherent in this arrangement, but because
of a crisis in the relationship: the man abandoned the woman, became engaged to an-
other, or argued with his "mother-in-law." Finally, a surprisingly high number (fif-
teen, or six percent) of deflowered women stated that they had "given in" sexually
because the defendant had promised to "live maritally" with them, and appealed to the
police when the promise was not fulfilled.Judges and prosecutorswere not sympathetic
to these grievances, characterizingwomen who accepted promises of "concubinage" as
dishonest. Prosecutor S. de Medino, for example, arguing in 1925 for the closure of a
case in which the woman stated that she had sex because her boyfriend promised to live
maritally with her, associated the acceptance of this promise to prostitution: "The of-
fended woman... sold her right of primogeniture for a plate of lentils, a room paid and
a remote marriage."48 In contrast, consensual unions were clearly a desirablealternative

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60 Luso-BrazilianReview30:1

to marriage for many young women, who felt morallyjustified in having sex in those
conditions and that they had been abused when the promise was broken.
In accepting consensual unions and the idea that sexual relations werejustified by a
marriage promise, the population testifying in defloweringcases were upholding tradi-
tions that date (at least) to the early colonial period. Not only is it "well known that
Brazilians, both historically and in the present, are not 'a marrying population,' " as
Elizabeth Kuznesof notes in a recent study of nineteenth-century illegitimacy, but
"simple concubinage" (the union of two marriageable individuals, as opposed to
"qualified concubinage,"which involved a married person or cleric) was not vigorously
or systematically persecuted by church or state, even when the Council of Trent direc-
tives were applied to Brazil after 1707.49Reviewing the historiographyon the family and
illegitimacy, Kuznesof concludes that "the rules of marriage and thus of legitimacy
seem to have been remarkablyfluid" in colonial Brazil.50Though apparently more fre-
quent among the lower classes of both sexes and men of the upper class, illicit sexual
unions existed and were acknowledged by all social classes.51Stable informal unions
were common, but women and men also frequently changed partners. Even married
women, often considered powerlessby historians, could obtain a divorce, which did not
allow formal remarriage but in practice provided relative freedom to chose subsequent
companions.52Illegitimacy, high throughout Brazilian history, seems to have increased
in the nineteenth century among both white and colored populations, and to have been
highest among urban populations.53At the end of the nineteenth century and through-
out the 1940s, census data shows marriage ratesto be lower (which probably meant that
illicit unions were higher) in Rio de Janeiro than in any other Brazilian city.54Thus, in
their attempts to "conquer civilization" by defending female honor in Rio de Janeiro,
early twentieth-centuryjudicial officials were battling both popular customs, undoubt-
edly influenced by both African and Portuguese social practices, and a tradition of rela-
tive official indifference to (or inability to change) these customs.
This does not mean that Catholic values such as formal marriage were not valued in
Brazilian society, nor that there were no standards or social norms regulating consen-
sual unions. Rather, in Brazil, as in colonial Latin America in general, there existed
what Asunci6n Lavrin calls a "dialogue" between values and norms disseminated by
church and state institutions and behavior and attitudes deriving from common values
and practicesthat transgressedecclesiastic moral codes.55For example, the recognition
of illegitimate children was sanctioned by law and was common in upper class wills, but
upper class privileges and official appointments often required proof of legitimacy and
family "honor."56At the other end of the social scale, studies of social organization
among slaves, particularly in areas of high slave concentration, reveal remarkably sta-
ble and complex family and kinship networks, regulated by clearly defined moral codes
and often without formal church sanction.57In short, as Eliana Goldschmidt argues for
Sao Paulo (1745-1822), "the conflict between institutional rules and individual tenden-
cies led to the creation of differentmoral values" that structuredbehavior and social or-
ganization for the greater part of the population. Among these different values was a
concept of honor in which "personal will was more important than family reputation"
and, significantly,the manifestation of the intent to marry was sufficient for a couple to
not only begin sexual relations, but to cohabit and have children. Though the intent to
marry could render an illicit union honorable (in the eyes of the population, not the
church), and was used by men to defend themselves against charges of concubinage by
church officials, the formal marriage itself often did not ever occur. Goldschmidt sug-

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Caulfield/Esteves 61

gests that cohabitation on these grounds may have been a legacy of the older Portu-
guese practiceof recognizing prolonged cohabitation as legitimate marriage.58Luciano
Figueiredo also found that a promise of marriage was used to legitimate sexual rela-
tions and concubinage in eighteenth-century Minas Gerais.59
Unlike the situation for upper class Mexican society in the seventeenth century,
when failure to fulfill a marriage promise through formal marriage was a serious breech
of male honor, it seems that for most of Brazilian society, historically, it was not always
necessary for a man to fulfill his promise of marriage formally to be considered honor-
able.60Rather, it was often acceptable for him to fulfill it by "living maritally" with the
woman who was referredto as "suamulher"as if she were his legitimate wife.61This was
certainly true in the view of many early-twentieth-centurywomen who took their de-
flowerersto court over broken promises of a life together, whether church-sanctionedor
It is clear, then, that while female virginity outside of formal marriage was held to
be a social ideal, practices that deviated from this ideal were not ignominies. In fact,
they were a norm for the majority of Brazil's population from the colonial period
through the period studied. Thus, while there is evidence of the existence among Rio's
poor of a variation of the so-called "cult of virginity,""marianismo" or, to cite Galdino
Siqueira, "hymenophilia," generally attributed to "Latin" culture, there were options
open to poor women in Rio de Janeiro based on traditions that tempered or redefined
the sexual repression and submission required of females by this ideology.
Maintaining old customs such as pre-marital sexual relations and consensual un-
ions, often cemented by a promise of eventual marriage, were options chosen by many
of the offended women in our documentation. There were also other ways that these
women departed from ideal sexual behavior, performing roles that presented the most
serious challenges to the court's definition of female honor and virginity.
In the first place, regardlessof abundant evidence that virginity was a valued asset,
many of the defloweredgirls in our documents had repeated sexual contacts out of wed-
lock and with boyfriends they had known for short periods of time, often less than one
month and sometimes less than a few days. Moreover, reading beyond their reiterated
strategicdepictions of themselves as passive victims of male passion and their own in-
credulity, it is possible to detect varied and complex motives for their actions. The loss
of virginity was an important event for these girls, but often for vastly different reasons
than those foreseen by the courts.
In uncovering various, contradictoryreasons that girls gave up their virginity, we
do not claim that the girls' depiction of themselves as passive victims of deceit was nec-
essarily completely false, or more false than other roles they performed within the con-
fines of legal documents. Our point is not to "discover the truth," or to judge which,
among various motives that appear in testimonies, "really" influenced the "virgin
girl" (mofa virgem)to decide to become a "devirgined women" (mulherdesvirginada).
Rather, we argue that the existence of various motives, operating either in diverse situa-
tions and points of time or simultaneously, suggests that the significance of their deci-
sion was equally variable.
Evidence that the girl's own libido influenced her to have sex, for example, contra-
dicted many girls' assertions of passivity and single-minded pursuit of marriage. Sex-
ual excitement and pleasure clearly influenced many adolescent girls' decisions to have
sex with their boyfriends, though few girls openly admitted to these sensations, espe-
cially before the 1920s. In later decades, there were several cases in which they did. In

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62 Luso-Brazilian

1940, for example, IBS, after declaring that her boyfriend S promised to marry her
many times, described her defloration as follows:

... after becoming very excited by S's caresses, with him in her grand-
mother's room, there in her bed, after his having removed her under-
pants and with her still struggling, he, after lying her down, with his
virile member in a state of erection, introduced it into her vagina caus-
ing her a sensation of pain...62

Since IBS does not ever mention the use of physical force or violence by S, the ongoing
struggle she described was directed against her own excitation. Her body exerted influ-
ence that, according to her testimony,was at least as strong as that exerted by S's claim
that he would marry her only after he "possessed her." In her statements, he had been
promising marriage for several months, but she refused sex on that basis alone, only
"giving in" after "becoming very excited." The same was true in eighteen-year-old,
white, commercial employee PFC's description of her deflorationin 1940,... [A]fter re-
newing the promises [of marriage] that he was always making and caressing her, excit-
ing her a great deal, he deflowered her..." and in that of HS, a seventeen-year-old
black domestic worker who stated in 1932 "that the act was preceded by formal prom-
ises of marriage and caresses which induced the declarant to permit the act to take
In these testimonies, the male was depicted as sexual protagonist. At the same time,
sexual foreplay(or "preparatoryacts," as it was termed in the testimony of one woman)
was treated with a nonchalance or naturalnessthat contradictsimages of the woman as
sexually passionless and motivated solely by the marriage promise.
Even more contradictory were many descriptions of the "act" itself. Some

... He threw her down on the bed and, spreading her legs, introduced
his virile member in her sexual parts, which caused her much pain and
defloweredher... she practiced two sexual congresses, both very pain-
ful, with her boyfriend....64

... the declarant, although she didn't want to give in, copulated with
her fiance, both of them standing, and she felt pain and lost blood.. .65

If their first sexual experience was as unpleasant as most of the girls claim, why the re-
peated contacts reported in almost all of the cases, most of which immediately following
the defloration? In the second example, the unconventional position (standing up) as
well as the wording (shecopulated with her fiance) does not evoke the image of a com-
pletely passive woman. This last point was argued by Judge Eurico Cruz in 1926.
Refusing to accept an offended woman's claim that F.V. had deflowered her while
seated in a chair as she stood facing him, Cruz argued:

What is that the woman, during the first coitus,

deny the normal passivity of her own sex-the fragile sex-...
especially since, in the first sexual union, it is suffering, more than
pleasure, that she is due.66

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Caulfield/Esteves 63

But while the sex drive of the girls was often detectable beneath their claims of pas-
sionlessness and passivity, this "biological" explanation of their decision to engage in
sexual relations was not the only determinant. Girls also used their virginity as an in-
strument in power struggles at various levels. Since much of the discipline imposed on
young women wasjustified as the defense of their honor or preservationof their virgin-
ity, many came to view the rupture of their hymens as liberating. Having sex was, for
many young women, an act of defiance.
There were twenty-fivecases (ten percent) in which the girls had sex with their boy-
friends in order to force their parents to accept a forbidden relationship.67Although by
law, parental consent was required for marriage of those younger than twenty-one re-
gardless of virginal status, conventional wisdom was that parents lost authority over
their daughters upon the girls' defloration. Sixteen-year-old GFS, who ran away from
home because her mother objected to her relationship with JC, explained that JC's
seventy-eight-year-old brother-in-law MAS "advised her to give herself to her boy-
friend because that would be the way they could get married independently of her
mother's consent.68This case, along with all of the other cases in which the couple had
sex in order to be permitted to marry, was resolved by the marriage.
The symbolic sexual "possession" by a man of a woman took a concrete form in
these cases, as men who "possessed" a virgin women sexually came to take authority
over her away from her parents. "To possess" in the sexual sense was an explicitly gen-
dered verb: men "possessed" women, never vice-versa. Brazilian law legitimized this
"possession." Legally, women were under the tutelage of their fathers, the holder of pd-
triopoderin the family, until the age of twenty-one; if a woman married, this authority
passed to their husbands. In these relationships, the protagonists, that is, those taking
authority, were theoretically always male. In contrast to these phallocentric symbolic
power relationships, however,our data suggest that in practice, conflicts of authority in-
volving a girl's loss of virginity usually involved female protagonists on both sides. The
mother was the major authority figure for most young girls in our sample, since the fa-
ther was absent in seventy-six percent of our cases." Furthermore, many girls used the
ideology which cast them as perpetually dependant as a weapon against this authority.
The complaint filed in 1929 by JSA, mother of MPA, an eighteen-year-old black fac-
tory worker, is revealing:

... on the morning of March 5, the declarant was at home, as was her
daughter MPA, [who] for a trifling reason responded rudely to a com-
ment made by the declarant;...the declarant therefore said to her
daughter that she was obliged to obey her until she got married;...
MPA responded that all she had to do was leave with U, because "she
was already his";...the declarant, suspicious of these phrases from
MPA submitted her to a rigorous interrogation, obtaining the confes-
sion from her that she had been deflowered by U.70

In this and many other cases, the major conflict was not between "victim" and "ac-
cused," or not entirely so. Parents or guardians and daughters are often the combat-
ants. After "rigorous interrogation"and sometimes severe punishments, many parents
went to the police and filed complaints that seem to be retaliation as much against the
daughter as against her deflowerer.MC's stepfather and mother, for example, during
the course of the defloration case they opened in 1927 against MC's boyfriendJBS, a

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64 Luso-Brazilian

thirty-one-year-oldpardosailor, attempted to have MC confined to a juvenile detention

center. MC, a fifteen-year-oldparda domestic servantwho had run awayfrom home on
her own accord and withoutJBS's assistance, escaped her mother's and the court's gov-
ernorship by having sex with and then marrying JBS.71
Being "possessed" by a man, then, did not seem to represent a feeling of subjuga-
tion or enslavement for women we encounter as "victims" of defloration. Rather, it
sometimes symbolized liberation and a breaking of bonds of dependance. This is not to
say that total economic independence always resulted from liberated sexual behavior,
especially since contraceptiveuse was limited (though mentioned in three cases) and it
was extremely difficult for a young woman to support a family alone. Many women lost
their jobs and continued living with their parents after becoming pregnant, with or
without the fathers of their child. The difficulties of single parenthood were all too fa-
miliar for many of the girls' mothers, which explains in large part the urgency of moth-
ers' attempts to force the deflowerers to marry their daughters. But in a society in
which survival strategiesfor the majority of the population involved intricate networks
of interdependence and solidarity, economic independence was rare for anyone.72By
giving up her virginity, a young woman did increase her power to choose her survival
strategy.In some cases, this strategy might even include marriage against her parents'
or her partner's will.
In any case, the point remains that when the need to protect virginity was elimi-
nated, much of the constriction imposed on young women was no longer justified. EM
(white, nineteen years old) was clear on this point, telling her father that she left home
because "she considered herself entirely liberated" as a result of her defloration.73
This concept of liberty as implying the absence of virginity was not unique to EM's
testimony but arose constantly in deflorationcases. Severaldefendants and defense wit-
nesses referredto the offended girl as a "liberatedwoman," ( "mulher liberada" or "mulher
livre")meaning she was not a virgin. When used to characterize a woman's upbringing
or behavior, "liberty" connoted a lack of moral discipline or vigilance over her honor.74
A virgin girl was not independent, but had parents, relatives or patroesto answer to.
Eighteen-year-oldwhite seamstressJC, for example, was denounced by a defense wit-
ness as "a person without commitments," whose "unconcealed liberty" demonstrated
she was not a virgin.75
The connection between liberty and lack of virginity was made most explicitly and
consistently by defense lawyers. A few examples:

The accused has no doubts in awaiting his acquittal, especially since

the impure virgin was a regular client of the Cabaret
Milton, living in
complete liberty...

The offended girl, as we have seen, lacked the necessary maternal

guidance, and the facts narratedabove reveal the life of dangerous lib-
erty she led.... 76

It is clear that the association between liberty and lack of virginity was part of the logic
of the legal system in which lawyers were trained. The logic also made sense to those
interrogated, though at times in different ways. Thus, in response to defense lawyers'
questions, offended girls and their witnesses almost always stated that she was strictly
supervised and "not permitted liberty."Occasional slips, such as that of IBS's grand-

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Caulfield/Esteves 65

mother, who responded that IBS "had liberty to go out alone because she worked"
were generally corrected in later testimony. The grandmother's statement reveals her
confusion with changing definitions of "liberty."Her younger neighbor made it clear in
her statements, taken immediately after the grandmother's,that simply going out alone
was not a sign of liberty (and that she understood the lawyer's insinuation), insisting
that IBS "did not have liberty, always coming home early."7
The idea was that a virgin did not possess individual liberties, and, by exclusion, a
non-virgin did. In the case of EM, the conflict leading to the opening of the defloration
case against L began because she "told her mother of her condition of being a
devirgined woman because her mother opposed allowing a single [virgin] girl [mofasol-
teira]to live far from her." In parents' absence, employers were often expected to guard
a girl's virginity. Upon employing their daughters in the service of "honest families,"
some parents specified that they should be "rigorously supervised" or that "maximum
precaution" should be taken with her.78One father attested to his daughter's honor by
stating that "he knew her employersdid not allow her any liberty."79 Severalof the do-
mestic servantsalso state that their employers"did not allow [them] any liberty" as evi-
dence of their virginity, explaining that they were not allowed to talk to boys at the gate
of the house, or that they were only allowedto go out alone on their day off (once a fort-
night) and then only to visit their parents.80
In short, restrictions placed on young women were often justified as necessary for
the preservationof their virginity. The situation was similar to that described by Sandra
Lauderdale Graham in her study of domestic servants in Rio de Janeiro between 1860
and 1910.Domestics, LauderdaleGraham found, were categorized by their experience,
sexual and other, as either "indoor" or "outdoor."The former, generallyyoung and in-
experienced, were much more severely restricted and usually confined to the house,
while the latter, implicitly not virgins, were free to participate in the social world of the
In our documents, the terms "mofa"and "donzella," literally "young woman," both
signified virgin in popular usage and implied puerility, dependence and tutelage.82In
contrast, a "mulher desuirginada"signified an independent adult, free to take liberties not
permitted a young virgin. There were also, as we explained above, certain disadvan-
tages and stigmas attached to this status. It was not, however, necessarily equated with
the status of prostitute, and many young women, even if unconsciously, chose the rela-
tive independence it brought over the protection they could earn by obediently preserv-
ing the integrity of their hymens.


The fact that young women went to police stations to open criminal cases of deflora-
tion demonstrates the loss of virginity was a significant event in their lives, but as we
have seen, the way that they understood and experienced "virginity" was multi-
faceted. The testimony and behavior of deflowered women, alleged deflowerers and
witnesses reveals that the common people who confrontedjuridical authorities in police
stations and courtrooms did not ascribe the same narrow significance to the concepts of
honor and virginity that juridical authoritiesdid. The norms, values and behavior that
emerge in testimony revealoptions derived not only from the conditions of everydaylife
but also from the traditional practicespresent in the culture universe of the Rio de Ja-

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66 Luso-Brazilian Review 30:1

neiro'sworking class. The persistenceof this culturaluniverse through the period under
study limited the effectivenessof juridical authorities' project to remedy what they con-
sidered moral failings, or to "educate" a population they considered lacking in "civi-
lized" values.
This does not mean that popular cultural remained static and unchanging over the
fifty-year period considered. However, the continuities in moral values, family struc-
ture and sexual behavior are much more striking than changes registered in testimony.
This continuity stands in contrast to the changes in juridical concepts of honesty and
virginity, which became more flexible and less polarized during the same period.
Despite the modifications in juridical thought, however, its interpretationof popu-
lar behavior remained limited by the culturalexperiences and mentality of the authori-
ties constructing it. But limited evaluations of popular values and sexual behavior do
not characterizeonly male judicial authorities of decades past. In 1991, when consen-
sual sexual relationships outside of marriage are generallyviewed casually among those
of all social classes, and complaints of the crime of defloration (or seduction, as it is
termed under the 1940 penal code, still in effect) are practically nonexistent, narrow
readings of popular sexual values and gender norms have survived. At a recent debate
concerning the effectiveness of women's police stations,83various representativesof im-
portant governmental and nongovernmental feminist organizations in Rio de Janeiro
were of the opinion that the most serious problem faced by the poor women who seek
police assistance is their own internalization of a machistasexual ideology.84This under-
standing of popular culture, derived from testimony of women presenting themselves in
the role of victim, led the feminist representatives(all middle class intellectuals) to pro-
claim the need to educate these (other) women in the values of "feminine liberation."
This kind of reading of popular culture does not consider the possibility that other
identities, aside from that of "victim," might exist in the same discourse. It also does
not take into account the history of popular values. Our research demonstrates that
these values, at least since the turn of the century, have challenged those of judicial or-
der and constructed female identities that do not fit into narrow definitions of
"mother" or "prostitute"; "honest" or "dishonest"; "virgin" or "desgrafada."


'Theauthorswouldliketo thankWarrenDean,PeterBeatty,RogerKittleson,JeffLesserand
NancyNaro,as wellas the twoanonymousLuso-Brazilian Review readers,fortheirinsightfulcom-
mentson an earlierversionof this essay.
2Therecordsconsultedby Esteveswerepartof the researchforher Master'sthesis,defended
at theUniversidade
Federal in 1988andsubsequently
Fluminense publishedasMeninas OsPop-
ularese o Cotidiano
doAmornoRiodeJaneiro da "BelleEpoque" (Rio deJaneiro:Paz e Terra,1989).
Caulfield'sdatawerecollectedas partof herdoctoraldissertationresearch,currentlyin progress.
Esteves'srecordsarefromthe SecondandFourthCartdrios of theJuryTribunal.After1911,sexual
crimeswereno longertriedbeforejuriesbut beforeindividualjudgesresponsiblefor Varas Crimi-
naes(criminaljurisdictions).Caulfield'srecordsare fromthe First, Fourth,Sixth and Seventh
Varas. Distributionof criminalcasesbetweenthe fourcartdrios of theJury Tribunaland the first
sevenVaras Criminaes wasdonecentrally,on the basisof workloadandnot by any geographical ju-
risdictionor type of crime.Thus, our datais a randomsampleof recordsof sexualcrimein the

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Caulfield/Esteves 67

3Wehave favored qualitative and illustrativeevidence over quantitative or statistical data for
both practical and theoretical reasons. Variations in our two sets of criminal records, deriving
from different court procedures before and after 1911,as well as differences in the way data were
recorded and the proportional representativenessof each set, make complex quantitative analysis
precarious. More importantly,the evidence our sources provide of attitudes, value systems and so-
cial norms does not lend itself to numerical quantification, though it is possible to perceive qualita-
tive tendencies of change or continuity over time. We have thus limited quantitative analysis to
simple proportional comparisons (for example, percentages of different verdicts).
'In this essay, we define popular culture in the anthropologicalsense that Carlo Ginzburg out-
lined succinctly in his preface to TheCheese andthe Worms:"a complex of attitudes, beliefs, codes of
behavior,etc., of the subordinate classes in a given historical period." Ginzburg, The Cheeseandthe
Worms(New York:Dorset Press, 1989), xiv. In spite of the theoretical limitations and controversy
surrounding the concept of popular culture, we opted to use it in this study for the perspective it
provides in interpreting the clashes between judicial authorities and the protagonists of criminal
cases, who are all of the working class. As we intend to demonstrate throughout this article, we do
not believe in a simple polarization of popular and erudite culture, but ratherthat there is diverse
interpenetration(what Ginzburg calls a "circular,reciprocalinfluence" [p. xvii]) between the two.
Through testimony of working class people in court cases we can observe what Ginzburg considers
the "horizon of possibilities that culture offers to the individual-a flexible and invisible cage in
which he can exercise his own conditional liberty" (p. xxi).
'After various categories of "physical assault," deflowering vied with robbery as the most fre-
quent crime brought before the courts during the period according to the holdings of the Jury Tri-
bunal archive(see SPJ-Relafao34 in the National Archive) and scattered police statistics. Available
statistics(though precarious) show that there was an approximate averageof 216 per year between
1913and 1918, 449 in 1927 and 502 in 1928; and an approximate averageof 530 from 1937-1940.
These numbers do not include numerous police investigations that were closed before they
reached the court. See AnuarioEstatisticoda Policiada CapitalFederal(Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Na-
cional, 1927); Relatoriodo Chefeda Policiado DistritoFederal(Rio de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional,
1929) and the AnudrioEstatisticodo Brazil(Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 1940). The city's total population
was 691,565 in 1890, 1,157,873 in 1920 and 1,764,141 in 1940. See CensoDemograficoParteXVI-
DistritoFederal(Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 1951).
6FranciscoJose Viveiros de Castro, Os DelttosContraa Honrada Mulher,fourth ed. (Rio de Ja-
neiro: FreitasBastos, 1942), 11.Viveiros de Castro (1862-1906) was the firstjurist in Brazilto pub-
lish articles and books about sexual crime aimed at establishing jurisprudence that would orient
judges in imposing punishment, and was frequently quoted by lawyersand judges up until at least
the 1940s. His other important works include Atentados ao Pudor3rd ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Freitas
Bastos, 1934); EnsaiosJuridicos(Rio de Janeiro: Laemmert, 1892);JurisprudinciaCriminal(Rio de
Janeiro: H. Garnier, 1900); Quest&es deDireitoPenal(Rio de Janeiro: J. Ribeiro dos Santos, 1900);
Sentenfase Decisoesem Mat'riaCriminal(Rio de Janeiro: Cunha e Irmaos, 1896).
'Viveiros de Castro, Os Delitos, 11-25.
8"Article 267-Deflower an underage woman, employing seduction, deceit or fraud:
Penalty-one to four years of prison. (...) Article 268-Rape a woman, virgin or not, but honest:
Penalty-one to six years of prison. (...) Article 269-The act by which the man abuses a woman
violently, whether or not she is a virgin is considered rape. (... ) Article 276-In cases of deflower-
ing and rapeof honest women, the conviction of the criminal will oblige him to endow the offended
woman. The sentence will be annulled if it is followed by marriage."Jorge Severiano, CodigoPenal
da Reptiblica dosEstadosUnidosdo Brazil(Rio de Janeiro: Jacintho Ribeiro dos Santos, 1923), 391-
9Forfurtherdiscussion of the role of the judiciary at the end of the nineteenth century, see Es-
teves, MeninasPerdidas,25-32. Aside from Viveiros de Castro, some of the most important jurists
of the period were Evaristode Moraes, Macedo Soares,Joao Vieira and Galdino Siqueira. It is in-
teresting to note that we did not find indications of systematic sexual policies aims at the general

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68 Luso-Brazilian Review 30:1

population by the Catholic Church during this period. In the colonial period, the Church made
attempts to moralize the population by combating concubinage, but this policy was never vigor-
ously implemented. See Laura Mello e Souza, O Diaboe a Terra deSantaCruz(Sao Paulo: Schwartz,
1987); Fernando Torres Londono, "El Concubinato y la Iglesia en el Brasil Colonial," in Estudos
CEDHAL, Universidade deSao Paulo, 1988; Ronaldo Vainfas, "A Teia da Intriga: Delacio e Mora-
lidade na Sociedade Colonial," in Histdriae Sexualidade no Brasil, ed. R. Vainfas (Rio de Janeiro:
Graal, 1986), 41-66; Maria Beatriz Nizza da Silva, Sistemade Casamento no Brasil Colonial(Sao
Paulo: T. A. Queiroz, 1984); Luciano Raposo de Almeida Figueiredo, "Barrocas Famflias:Vida
Familiarem Minas Gerais no Seculo XVIII," (Master's diss., Universidade de Sao Paulo, 1989).
"Speech by Rui Barbosa, ColefaoNosso Siculo,1900-1910 (Sao Paulo: Abril Cultural, 1980),
96. The crystalizationof a sexual politics for the whole of the social body that went beyondjudici-
ary efforts, identifying the family with the "unified, organic and integralfatherland" can be dated
more specificallyto the post-1930s.Then, new political and economic structuresmade it necessary
to include increasingly broad sectors of the population. After 1930, projects were elaborated to
support the family, and there was significant state intervention in regulating female employment
and creating child assistance programs. See Simon Schwartzman, "A Igreja e o Estado Novo:O
Estatuto da Familia" and Maria ValeriaJunho Pena, "A Revolucao de 30, a Familiae o Trabalho
Feminino" in A Familiaem Questao(Sao Paulo: Fundaico Carlos Chagas, 1981). Also, Sonia Kra-
mer, A PoliticaPre-Escolarno Brasil(Rio de Janeiro: Achiame, 1981).
"H. C. Fragoso,LifoesdeDireitoPenal:ParteEspecialVol. 2, Fifth ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Forense,
'See B. C. Brandao,A Policiae a ForcaPolicialno Rio deJaneiro(Rio de Janeiro: Serie Estudos
PUC/RJ,1981), 223.
'The creation of a sexual politics was initiated by doctors in the mid-nineteenth century, with
the objectiveof protecting and differentiatingelite families from the bulk of the population by "hy-
gienicizing," or sanitizing, elite families. Only later did doctors and jurists, the latter playing an
important part beginning at the end of the century, attempt to extend these sexual politics to all of
society. See Jurandir Freire Costa, OrdemMidica e NormaFamiliar(Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 1977);
Magali Engel, Meretrizes e Doutores,0 SaberMidico e a Prostituicao na Cidadedo Rio deJaneiro,1840-
1890 (Sao Paulo: Brasiliense, 1989); Roberto Machado, et al., Danacaoda Norma(Rio de Janeiro:
Graal, 1978); Rachel Soihet, CondifaoFemininae Formasde Violencia: MulheresPobrese OrdemUrbana,
1890-1920 (Rio de Janeiro: Forense, 1990); Sidney Chalhoub, Trabalho, Lare Botequim (Sao Paulo:
Brasiliense, 1986);Jose Murilo de Carvalho, Os Bestializados(Sao Paulo: Companhia das Letras,
1989); Nicolau Sevcenko, Literatura comoMissdo:Tensoes Sociaise CriafdoCulturalna PrimeiraRepublica
(Sao Paulo: DIFEL,1977).
"Viveiros de Castro, Atentadosao Pudor,xiii.
"Galdino Siqueira, DireitoPenalBrasileiro(Rio de Janeiro: LivrariaJacinto, n.d.), 423.
"See Soihet, CondicaoFeminina;Engel, Meretrizes e Dontores;and Esteves, MeninasPerdidas.
"Maco 903 N. 1438. All of the cases cited in this article are from the National Archive. Cita-
tions correspond to the Archive's classification by caixaor macoand case number. All names were
substituded by initials.
'"Otheraspects of judicial policies of sexual control could be analyzed through defloration
cases: the confrontation between divergent positions of jurists (regarding the definition of these
crimes as pertaining to Public or Private Law, for example), that reflected different projectsof so-
cial organization and of social control itself; the tendency of verdicts and sentences; the position of
police officials, prosecutors and lawyers;the production of other images, aside from that of virgin-
ity, about honesty. See Esteves, MeninasPerdidas.
"Hymenophile: a person who adores the hymen. See Siqueira, DireitoPenalBrasileiro, 439-444.
Other authors also dealt with this issue: Afranio Peixoto divided peoples of the world into two
groups: himendlatras (hymen adorers) and misimenistas (hymen haters). See Afranio Peixoto, Sexolo-
gia Forense(Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Guanabara, 1934). Darcy Campos de Medeiros e Aroldo Moreira
found hymenal adoration to be linked to the ethical-social formation of each culture and, perhaps

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Caulfield/Esteves 69

most importantly, to the influence of the Catholic religion (see Darcy Campos de Medeiros and
Aroldo Moreira, Do Crimede Sedudao(Rio de Janeiro: Freitas Bastos, 1961).
"Siqueira, DireitoPenal,439.
'Ma;o 878 No. 4952.
"Afranio Peixoto, SexologiaForense,89.
"Viveiros de Castro, Os DelitosContraa Honrada Mulher,79.
2+SeeSiqueira, DireitoPenal,447-456. Crysolito de Gusmao was the leader of an opposing ten-
dency, which, following Viveiros de Castro'steachings, maintained the "promise of marriage" as
essential for the configuration of the crime. See Crys6lito de Gusmao, Dos CrimesSexuais,5th ed.
(Rio de Janeiro: Freitas Bastos, 1981), 212-224.
"Siqueira, DireitoPenal,450.
"Ribeiro Pontes, CddigoPenalBrasileirg8th ed. (Rio de Janeiro: Freitas Bastos, 1977), 339.
"Though the latter thesis was commonly argued in juridical literature, it was not substantiated
by criminal records. We found only four cases in which the defendant was significantly wealthier
than the offended girl.
"Medeiros and Moreira, Do Crimede Seduado27, 59 and 44, respectively.
"Nationality is often provided for defendants, offended women and witnesses, but does not al-
ways reflect ethnic background, since children of immigrants were usually classified as "Brazil-
ian," and it is often impossible to determine the ethnicity of parents, especially defendants'
parents, who are almost never called to testify. Color is almost always indicated for the offended
women (in their deflowering examinations), but more sporadically for defendants and almost
never for witnesses. It is also a problematic datum, since determination of color depended upon
the perception of many different officialswho recorded testimony. The same person was often clas-
sified by different color categories in subsequent testimonies. For purposes of comparison, we use
the first mention of color for men and the color recorded in the deflowering examinations for
women. Color and nationality of offended women and defendants are indicated in Table II.
'"Seethe cases against AG in 1906 (Maco 898 No. 1134)and against AM in 1939 (Caixa 1813
No. 2368).
"Caixa 1737 No. 93. Deflowering examinations were among the most frequently performed
examinations in the Institute throughout the period studies. Statistics of the examinations per-
formed at the Medical-Legal Institute between 1913and 1918were published in the AnuarioEstatis-
ticoda Policiada CapitalFederaland averaged363 per year; for 1926 to 1930 they were published in
the annual Relatoriodo Chefede Policiaand averaged522 per year; for 1937 to 1941 they were pub-
lished in Manoel Odorico de Moraes, "Estado Atual da Prostituicao no Rio de Janeiro" in A Folha
Medica,Ano xxiii nos. 13, 149, and averaged663. In all of these periods, these exams were out-
numbered only by corpusdelictiexams.
"See Esteves, MeninasPerdidas,171-174.
"Caixa 1813 No. 1115.
"Caixa 10869 No. 59.
"Maco 886 No. 5139, cited in Esteves, MeninasPerdidas,173. Compare with the description of
eighteen-year-old GE, a pardadomestic servant, twenty years later: "M...laid her down on the
floor and pushing up her clothing introduced his virile member in the vagina of the declarant, de-
flowering her, causing her pain and soiling her clothes with blood" (Caixa 1807, No. 324); or of
fifteen-year-oldLCH, a white domestic servant, in 1939: "0, lying the declarantdown on her bed,
pushed up her clothing and, under promise of marriage, introduced his virile member in the va-
gina of the declarant [who] felt slight pain and hemorrhage" (Caixa 1813 No. 2082). Similar de-
scriptions abound.
6Caixa 1807 No. 1936.
"Caixa 1926 No. 326.
"See Caixa 10869 No. 136 and No. 59. The issue of whether a defloweringcase should proceed
after the offended woman married a third party arose frequently in Brazilian jurisprudence be-
tween 1890 and 1938, which demonstrates that the situation, though unusual, was not unprece-

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70 Luso-Brazilian Review 30:1

dented. See Vicente Piragibe, DiciondriodeJurisprudencia PenaldoBrasil,Vol. 1 (Rio deJaneiro: Ed.

Freitas Bastos, 1938), 226-230.
39Accusationsthat the girl's behavior was dishonest were not limited to the defense, but were
also made by judges and prosecutors. At the turn of the century, cases were often deemed invalid
because the girl frequented the street unaccompanied. By the 1920s, the issue was the honor and
type of public space, as in the case in 1927 of sixteen-year-old, black domestic IPL, whose com-
plaint was deemed invalid because she frequented dance halls the prosecutor considered "the dens
of prostitution in this city" (Caixa 1813No. 8). For discussion of earlier restrictions on women's
movement outside the home, see Esteves, MeninasPerdidas,Chapter 1; also Sandra Lauderdale
Graham, HouseandStreet:TheDomesticWorldof ServantsandMastersin Nineteenth-Century Rio deJaneiro
(New York:Cambridge University Press, 1988), and for Sao Paulo, Margareth Rago, OsPrazeres da
Noite:Prostituicfoe Cddigosda Sexualidade FemininaemSdoPaulo,1890-1930 (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e
Terra, 1991).
4?Caixa1813 No. 8.
"This impunity freed men from the responsibilityfor more than damaged honor-66 (27 per-
cent) offended girls were pregnant when they sought the police (28 or 31 percent in the 1890-1911
sample; 43 or 27 percent in the 1918-1940 sample). Adultery was a criminal act (article 279) for
which married women and their lovers could be condemned to one to three years of prison, while
adulterous husbands were subject to punishment only if they supported their lovers economically
to the detriment of their legitimate households. Severiano, CodigoPenal,419-420.
42Caixa1775 No. 2265.
'3Michel Foucault, Disciplineand Punish: The Birth of the Prison(New York: Vintage Books,
1979), 203.
"Judith Butler, GenderTrouble.Feminismand the Subversion of Identity(New York: Routledge,
1990), 145.
'"Caixa 1775 No. 2265.
46Caixa10806 No. 113. EMB was evidently unaware that this definition of virginity was a mat-
ter of great debate in the field of Legal Medicine. While the prosecutorin his case argued that the
purely physiological definition of virginity had been rejected in Brazilianjurisprudence, the issue
of whether a woman whose hymen was damaged by other means than sexual contact should be
considered a virgin was deemed worthy of serious consideration again in 1950, when a judge was
asked for a legal opinion regarding the virginity of a girl who was defloweredin an auto accident.
See Flaminio Faivero,"Rutura do himen e do perineo em consequencia de desastre de automovel,"
in Revistados tribunaesVol. 136 (1950): 34-37. There was also debate in the sixties among doctors
regarding the ethics of "hymenal reconstruction,"with those defending the surgery arguing that
women whose hymens were damaged non-sexually (through disease or accidents) suffered unfair
prejudice. See Hermani de Iraja, Sexoe Virgindade: Reconstituifaoda Virgindade
Fisica (Rio de Ja-
neiro: Pongetti, 1969).
"Caixa 1807 No. 301.
"Caixa 1807 No. 1439.
"Elizabeth Anne Kuznesof, "Sexual Politics, Race and Bastard-Bearing in Nineteenth-
Century Brazil: A Question of Culture or Power?"in Journalof FamilyHistory16 no. 3: (1991) 241-
260, esp. 242, 244-5. Ronaldo Vainfas demonstrates the relative leniency of the Inquisition in
colonial Brazil in "A Teia da Intriga," in Vainfas, Histdriae Sexualidade,41-66. For further discus-
sion of concubinage in colonial Brazil, see M. B. Nizza da Silva, Sistemade Casamento and "A Im-
agem da Concubina no Brasil Colonial: Ilegitimidade e Heranca" in Rebeldiae Submissdo: Estudos
SobreCondifaoFeminina,ed. Albertina de OliveiraCosta and Cristina Bruschini (Sao Paulo: Vertice
and Fundacao Carlos Chagas, 1989), 17-60; Renato Pinto Venancio, "Nos Limites da Sagrada
Familia: Ilegitimidade e Casamento no Brasil Colonial," in Histdriae Sexualidadeno Brasil, ed.
Ronaldo Vainfas (Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 1986), 107-124; L. Raposo de Almeida Figueiredo,
"BarrocasFamilias"; Laura Mello e Souza, ODiaboe a Terra; FernandoTorresLondono, "El Con-
cubinato;" Lana Lage Gama Lima, Mulheres, Adulterose Padres:Histdriae Moralna Sociedade

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Caulfield/Esteves 71

(Rio deJaneiro: Dois Pontos, 1987); Luiz de Barros Mott, Os Pecadosda Familiana Bahiade Todosos
Santos(Salvador: Universidade da Bahia, 1982); Eliana Maria Rea Goldschmidt, "Virtude e Pe-
cado: Sexualidade em S5o Paulo Colonial" in Entrea Virtudee o Pecado,eds. Albertina de Oliveira
Costa e Cristina Bruschini (Sao Paulo: Rosa dos Tempos and Fundacao Carlos Chagas, 1992), 15-
36. For the nineteenth century, besides Kuznesof, see Katia de Queiros Mattoso, Familiae Sociedade
na BahiadoSiculoXIX (Sao Paulo: Corrupio, 1988); Eni de Mesquita Samara, "Casamento e Pa-
peis Familiaresem Sao Paulo no Seculo XIX" in RevistadeEstudose PesquisasemEducacao37 (maio
de 1981): 17-25; Celeste Zenha, "Casamento e Ilegitimidade no Cotidiano daJustica" in Vainfas,
Historiae Sexualidade,125-142.
"5Kuznesof,"Sexual Politics, Race and Bastard-Bearing,"247.
'Nizza da Silva, analyzing provisions for illegitimate offspring in colonial women's wills, ar-
gues that among the colonial upper classes, concubinage and illicit sexual relations were common
practices,even for women, and were more often considered "a small aberrationin behavior" than
a sin or perversion. Nizza da Silva, "A Imagem da Concubina," 18.
"2Nizzada Silva, "0 Div6rcio na Capitania de Sao Paulo" in Vivencia:Histdria,Sexualidade e
ImagensFemininas(Sao Paulo: Brasiliense and Fundacao Carlos Chagas, 1980), 151-195.
"Kuznesof, "Sexual Politics, Race and Bastard-Bearing,"249-257; Venancio, "Nos Limites
da Sagrada Familia" 107-124.
4SamC. Adono, "The Broken Promise: Race, Health, and Justice in Rio de Janeiro, 1890-
1940,"(Ph. D. diss., University of New Mexico, 1983), 102-103. Diretoria Geral de Estatistica, Re-
censeamento do Distrito Federal,1906. The tendency for low marriage rates was maintained in
subsequent decades. In the annual report of the Servicode HygienePublicafor Rio de Janeiro in
1940, the director of the Servi?ocompared annual marriage rates from 1894 to 1940 and concluded
that "the observation of 47 years demonstrates, lamentably, a weak tendency for marriage in the
FederalDistrict." See Decio Parreiras,Atividades deHygienePublicano Rio deJaneiro,1939-1940 (Rio
de Janeiro: Imprensa Nacional, 1941), 28-29.
"Asunci6n Lavrin, "Introduction: The Scenario, the Actors and the Issues" in Sexualityand
Marriagein ColonialLatinAmerica(Lincoln and London: U of Nebraska P, 1989), 1-43 esp p. 7-8.
Vainfas argues that by instilling generalized fear of guilt among the colonial "collective con-
science,"the Inquisition succeeded in "superimposing Catholic morality over colonial moralities,"
in Vainfas,Hisdtriae Sexualidade, 65-66. Goldschmidt, in "Virtude e Pecado," 15-16, makes a simi-
lar argument for eighteenth-century S5o Paulo. Celeste Zenha, "Casamento e Ilegitimidadell",
also discusses the penetration of Catholic values among a population characterizedby 40 percent
illegitimacy rates.
'5Kuznesof,"Sexual Politics," 245.
"See the articles by Robert Slenes; Slenes, Iraci del Nero da Costa, and Stuart Schwartz;Joao
Fragosoand Manolo Florentino; and Alida Metcalf in RevistadeEstudosEcondmicos 17 (maio/agosto
de 1987). Also, Slenes, "Lares Negros, Olhares Brancos: Hist6rias da Famflia Escravano Seculo
XIX," RevistaBrasileira deHistoria8, no. 16 (marco/agosto de 1988): 189-203; and, for freed slaves,
Ida Lewdowitz, "Heranca e Relacoes Familiares:Os Pretos Forros nas Minas Gerais do Seculo
XVIII," RevistaBrastleirade Histolra9, no. 17 (setembro de 1988/fevereirode 1989): 101-114.
"Goldschmidt, "Virtude e Pecado,"34; 27. For discussion of Portuguese recognition of mar-
riage porjuris, see Kuznesof, "Sexual Politics," 243 and Nizza da Silva, Sistemade Casamento.
"Figueiredo, "Barrocas Familias," 124-130.
6"See Patricia Seed, ToLove,Honor,and Obeyin ColonialMexico:ConflictsOverMarriageChoice,
1574-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988).
"In Brazil up until the present, the term "woman" (as in "suamulher"or "minhamulher")is
used more commonly than "esposa"to mean "wife," and is also used for "girlfriend" if the rela-
tionship is stable and long-term, especially if the couple lives together.
"Caixa 1727 No. 2663.
"Caixa 312 No. 7019; Caixa 1733 No. 28.
"Caixa 1807 No. 430.

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72 Luso-Brazilian Review 30:1

65Caixa1813 No. 2410.

"The sentence is cited in RevistaCriminal,Ano I, no. 2, (agosto de 1927); 52.
6715,or 17 percent, of the 1890-1911 sample; 10, or 74 percent, from the 1918-1940 sample.
8Caixa 1737 No. 2276.
6967,or 76 percent, from the 1890-1911 sample; 118, or 74 percent, from the 1918-1940 sam-
"Caixa 1807 No. 83.
"Caixa 1727 No. 2216.
"Fordiscussion of the survivalstrategiesof Rio de Janeiro's poor at the turn of the century, see
Chalhoub, Trabalho, Lar e Botequimand Soihet, CondifaoFeminina.
"Caixa 1733 No. 1117.
7For examples of mention of the girl's "educafao livre"by witnesses or defendants, see Caixa
1926 No. 493 and No. 537; Caixa 1770 No. 1214;Caixa 1771 No. 1956; and Caixa 1731 No. 140
and No. 1057.
7"Caixa1926 No. 493.
"Caixa 1731 No. 1057 and Caixa 1837 No. 1459. See also Caixa 1770 No. 1214;Caixa 1771
No. 1956; Caixa 1733 No. 1117;Caixa 1837 No. 1534 and Caixa 1813 No. 2410.
"Caixa 1813 No. 2410.
"See Caixa 1843 No. 380 and Caixa 1813 No. 746.
79Caixa1813 No. 1113.
8Caixa 1807 No. 746; Caixa 1843 No. 380; Caixa 1813 No. 1113.
"8LauderdaleGraham, HouseandStreet,Chapter 2.
82 "Elanaoe maismoa " or "elandoe maisdonzella," for example, were common phrasesmeaning
that the girl was no longer a virgin. They are still used in this sense in many parts of Brazil today.
"Founded nationwide in 1986 in response to feminist demands, the women's police stations
(Delegaciasda Mulher)are staffed by female police officers and attend specifically to complaints of
"The debate, organized by CEPIA(Cidadania,Estudo,Pesquisa,Informafdo e Adfo) was held on
August 14, 1991 and attended by invitation only. The purpose of the meeting was to evaluate pub-
lic policy relating to women's rights in general and women's police stations in particular. Repre-
sentatives from various groups that define themselves as feminist or pro-women's rights and
researcherswho study women's issues, including Esteves, were present at the meeting.

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Caulfield/Esteves 73

Table I-Results of Cases of Defloration and Rape

1890-1911 1918-1940
% Cases % Cases
% Total Tried by % Total Tried by
Number Cases Juries Number Cases Judges
Convictions 8 9.1 25 34 21 44
Acquittals 25 28.4 75 44 28 56
Invalid Cases 38 43.2 - 43 27
(no trial)
Marriage 17 19.3 - 38 24

TOTAL 88 100.0 100 159 100 100

Source: 247 Criminal Cases Consulted, Arquivo Nacional, SPJ-Processo Crime.

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74 Review30:1

Table II-Color and Nationality of Offended Women and Defendants'


1904-1911 1918-1940
Offended Offended
women Defendants women Defendants
number % number % number % number %

white 33 38 16 73 63 40 62 50
pardo/a2 37 43 4 18 56 35 39 31
black 16 19 2 9 27 17 19 15
other 0 0 0 0 13 8 5 4
TOTAL 86 100% 22 100% 159 100% 125 100%


1904-1911 1918-1940
Offended Offended
women Defendants women Defendants
number % number % number % number %
Brazilian 79 90 59 70 149 94 137 86
Portuguese 4 6 19 22 8 5 18 11
Other 4 4 7 8 2 1 4 3
TOTAL 88 100% 85 100% 159 100% 159 100%

Source: Same as table 1.

'Totals represent total number of cases that indicated color or nationality.

2In most cases, color was indicated as either white, black or parda,a color that lies be-
tween the two. We have left pardain Portuguese because there is no equivalent in En-

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