Pharmacological Omnipotence and Sexual Violence

  • John L. Fitzgerald


Ethnographic research during the North American crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s produced numerous accounts of how sexual violence against women was associated with crack (Inciardi et al., 1993; Ratner, 1993; Bourgois, 1995). Although sexual violence and drug use has a much longer history, the crack epidemic made visible both a particular set of relationships between sexual violence and drug use and the capacity for ethnographic research to shine a light on this complex social problem (Campbell, 2000). In one of the earliest ethnographic accounts of a crack house in North America, Inciardi et al. (1993) observed:

Crack houses are fundamentally different from anything previously known in the street drug scene. Crack is likely the most seductive street drug ever, and the crack house environment creates an interdependence among users, and between users and dealers, in which the bartering of sexual services is centre. Moreover … most are young, have little or no legitimate employment experience and are addicted to crack. As a result they have no control over what happens to them. (p. 86)


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Copyright information

© John L. Fitzgerald 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Fitzgerald
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MelbourneAustralia

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