Runaway Daughters: Seduction, Elopement, and Honor in Nineteenth-Century Mexico. KATHRYN A. SLOAN: Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2008

Jennie Purnell


Kathryn A. Sloan's Runaway Daughters is a study of the highly ambiguous crime and social drama of rapto de seducción in nineteenth-century Oaxaca, capital city of the southern Mexican state of the same name. Defined in the 1871 Mexican Penal Code as "the abduction of a woman against her will by the use of physical violence, deception, or seduction in order to satisfy ‘carnal desires' or to marry" (1), the charge of rapto provided ample terrain for the contestation of gender roles, parental authority, sexual and family honor, and the role of the state in defining adulthood and marriage. Rapto cases might involve sexual assault and coercion, as the parents of the young women often charged. But they might also be instances of consensual elopement (legally defined as rapto if the girl was under 16 years of age) in which minors "employed the drama of rapto as a strategy to defy parental authority and sometimes earn legal emancipation to make independent choices about their sexual or conjugal arrangements" (4).


Nineteenth-Century Mexico, Jennie Purnell, Kathryn A. Sloan,

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