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Article

Sex, Crime and the Law: Russian and European Early Modern Legal Thought on Sex Crimes

Comparative Legal History. 2013. Vol. 1. No. 1. P. 74-102.

This article investigates eighteenth-century Russian legal thought on the criminalisation of sex and sexualities in light of Western European scholarship on the same themes. It reveals the background to and preconditions for the transfer of knowledge and intellectual frameworks that structured societal understandings of sexuality and, at the same time, created the mechanisms of social and legal control over such behaviour. The study shows that the absence of developed Russian legal philosophy did not prevent the development of a criminal law with the same goals as more developed jurisdictions. Commentaries on and classification of sex crimes in Russia followed patterns familiar to Western Europe and used similar definitions rooted in Christian moral philosophy and canon law. The concern with the proper, rational and orderly development of state and society, central to the era, meant that laws relating to the criminalisation of sex and sexuality were not liberalised.