U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Race and Rape: The Black Woman as Legitimate Victim

NCJ Number
L M Williams
Date Published
34 pages
A review of relevant literature on cultural views of black sexuality and the historical lack of legal protection for the black female supports the thesis of this study that the black victim of sexual assault is viewed by society as a legitimate victim.
The belief that black women are unchaste and are more sexually promiscuous and sexually active at an earlier age than white women has its roots in slavery. This belief contributes to society's and the rapist's denial of injury to the black rape victim. When convinced that the victim deserved her victimization, the social response to a rape allegation will be neutralized. Historically, the U.S. legal system has distinguished between rapes committed by blacks and those committed by whites. Protection for black victims and white victims has also been legally distinct. The legal system continues to reflect the racist laws of an earlier period in responding more harshly to black rapists and less vigorously to black rape victims than to their white counterparts. Although such racial discrimination is no longer present in the law, it is still reflected in the law's administration. 1 table, 103 references.