By focusing on the state of Veracruz, this paper seeks to expand previous analyses of violence against women and girls to regions outside of Mexico City. Communities in Veracruz, long noted for labor unrest, also had many areas that were conservative strongholds during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The confluence of Catholic conservatism, masculinity, and the state’s anti-clerical moralization campaign led by governors such as Adalberto Tejeda (1920-1924, 1928-1932) informed communities’ perceptions of sexual violence that continued to emphasize women and girls’ morality and sexual probity. Both penal and civil law maintained the state’s need to safeguard families, but young women or girls who were not “chaste and honest” were usually outside the auspices of state protection. While men were at times convicted for committing estupro, decisions were based largely on a plaintiff’s public reputation without regard to the victim’s well-being. Veracruz’s communities provide a fascinating glimpse into the clash between tradition and modernity as both shaped local culture and legal process.
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