Wednesday, July 16, 2008

English women of another era

In the fifth to eleventh centuries were bought and regarded as the property of the husband

And as late as the seventeenth century husbands of "decent station" were not ashamed to beat their wives

Gentlemen arranged flogging parties of pleasure for the purpose of seeing wretched women whipped at Bridewell

It was not until 1817 that the public whipping of women was abolished in England

In the 1890's a woman receiving a higher education was obliged to remain all her life under the tutelage of some man

She had no rights to her husband's property, and lost every right to hers,

Even to every penny she eared by her own labor, having in short

No right to hold any property, whether inherited or acquired

A man deserting his wife for another woman, and leaving her and his children to starve, was not forced to support them

But had a legal right to every penny earned by his abandoned wife, as "the skill of her brain was not hers, it was her husband's

No matter what he did, or whatever crime he committed against her, she had no recourse against him

Could neither sue him, nor had even the right of lodging a complaint against him

Moreover she had no rights as a mother, English law recognising only the father and the child

Her children could be taken away from her

Separated from their mother forever and there was no redress for her

The wife had in the eyes of the law simply no existence
And it was only through the efforts of the Women's Franchise League and other similar bodies that these terrible conditions were addressed in law many years latter

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