Some time ago, it was thought that modern people came from Cro-Magnons, and Neanderthals became extinct. But after the Neanderthal genome project, we found that modern people have from 1% to 4% of Neanderthal DNA.

This lead to the idea that Neanderthals kept Cro-Magnons as sex-slaves:

For example, the self-proclaimed expert on an old thread:

The interbreeding that took place was an exclusively male Neanderthal-female "modern" exchange.

Therefore, there was a master-slave relationship between Neanderthals and "modern" sapiens, with Neanderthals as master, and the "modern" hybrid Cro-Magnon as slave. Leading genetic and archaeological experts agree that male-exclusive interbreeding is usually the result of violence.

The site for the QI TV trivia show drew a similar conclusion:

In 2011, a German team concluded that between 1% and 4% of the genome of all non-African populations today is derived from Neanderthals. This story led to speculation that early Human males may have kept Neanderthal women as sex-slaves, but seeing that the Neanderthals were so much stronger than Humans, it seems to us just as likely that it was the other way around.

Similar ideas pop up in comments on threads of various scientific blogs, showing it is notable: example, example

Does the idea of a sex-slave relationship between the species (in either direction) have scientific support?

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    I can't imagine any physical find that would support such a conclusion. Really the only thing to go on is "interbreeding happened". You'd need a time machine to go back and get details of the interbreeding (that leave no physical difference) whether they were consensual / paid for / drunk orgies or gene spliced by aliens. Jul 27, 2015 at 15:03
  • yes, you're probably right, but I added question about children. It depends if Neanderthals took women to live with them or they returned to Cron-Magnons.
    – Alexan
    Jul 27, 2015 at 17:26
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    I would expect it to be very hard to distinguish rape that from sex slaves based on DNA data. How about narrowing the question to ask whether the majority of the relationships were Neaderthal males with Cron-Magnon women?
    – Christian
    Aug 3, 2015 at 11:01
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    Did Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons even have practices, or even concepts, for slavery?
    – pinegulf
    Oct 31, 2022 at 14:03
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    This is nearly unprovable, however I can point out a flaw in the original claim. We only see exchange from male Neanderthal to female human sure, but given how genetics works it's very plausible the reason for that is the opposite matchup, Neanderthal female x human male, lead to infertile offspring who couldn't pass on there genes. Even if that didn't happen a child would be raised by it's mother, and so would grow up with, and mate within, his mother's race. Thus we likely see only human females with hybrids because only human mothers had hybrid kids who mated with other humans.
    – dsollen
    Oct 31, 2022 at 15:31


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