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The Right of the Primitiae, or the Right to the “Astride” or the Right of the First Night, (jus primae netos) was an institution in vigor during the Middle Ages and which in some countries, such as France, remained in use until the Revolution of 89 (Beaumarchais, O Casamento de Fígaro), there being rumors of its persistence in Italy (Sicily) till the mid-19th century. It was the right of the feudal lord to take the virginity of brides on their wedding night. In colonial Brazil, as an unwritten law, a similar right was widely claimed by the lords of the plantations, sugar mills, and by the great landowners in general the less ostentatious, more hypocritical manner of its use, nevertheless, did not alleviate characteristic violation of human integrity. In Brazil, most frequently, the landlord did not wait for the wedding, which served merely to disguise the violence already committed.
Although mankind has evolved to a point whereby the legal practice of such a custom today is inadmissible, we know that other forms of the right to violate (whether this be physical, moral or political rape) continue in effect in certain, so-called authoritarian regimes in such a way that the Right of the Primitiae provides an appropriate illustration of a practice which could be referring to events in our daily lives.

Dias Gomes

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