Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Female Petitioning, Sexual Violence and Legal Reforms in the Ottoman Empire, 1840s-1850s

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Magnolia, Lower Ground Floor

Petitions submitted by Ottoman subjects to the imperial government are very colorful sources of social and legal history. They constitute unique moments where the researcher is able to come much closer to touching and hearing the historical subject. The analyses of the rhetorical language and of the content of the petitions, as well as of the actors involved in petitioning, provide us with incomparable information on social and legal affairs. This unique source has received almost no attention in studies on Ottoman history despite the fact that it has been widely utilized by researchers working on other geographies.


The proposed paper aims to explore the phenomenon of women’s petitioning the imperial government, mostly concerning sexual assault cases, in the early decades of the Tanzimat era, namely the 1840s and 1850s. Looking at these complaints, I aspire to trace how women utilized various legal means in a legal reform period with constantly changing courts and institutions. At the same time, by tracing sexual offences in the trials of the highest appeal court, Meclis-i Vâlâ-yı Ahkâm-ı Adliye(Supreme Council of Judicial Ordinances), and juxtaposing them with the legal discourse of the Penal Code of 1858, the paper also aims to analyse the process of selection and combination of different legal sources. In addition, it questions the political and social dynamics, which shaped the new codification on sexual offenses. 

Basak Tug

Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey

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1 - Female Petitioning, Sexual Violence and Legal Reforms in the Ottoman Empire, 1840s-1850s



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