Women and the Law, 19th C
- Lower status in formal law
- "Unity of person" or coverture
-- english common law
-- married woman's legal identity subsumed by husband's
- Could not
-- hold property
-- enter into contracts
-- sue or be sued.
*married women had the least status. Basic rights not given to them*
*single women could own property, but there was a lot of pressure for women to marry.
- no legal control over own bodies
- husband could
-- not be charged with rape
-- sue for loss of wife's sexual/domestic services
-- control wife's wages
-- beat wife "moderately"
- abused women not to "desert" marriage
*if the wife left the husband and went to live with her parents, then the husband could sue the parents for the lost
of sexual services.
*man and wife seen as one legally. You can't rape yourself, you can't attack yourself.
-- judges would usually encourage woman to return, for the sake of the marriage. If the woman refused, she would
lose all support and the children
- Difficult and costly
- double standard
-- Husband had to wife's prove adultery to divource her.
-- Wife had to prove husband's adultery plus other grounds (adultery not enough)
* no irreconcilable differences.
- Act of Parliament required, no divource courts
- Custody of children usually to husband.
Quebec Civil Code
- community of property
- wife's consent needed to sell property - Husband to support wife and children
- separated women controlled their own property
* wife could take husband to court if it could be proven that the husband didn't care for the children and the wife
* mostly for women who brought property into the marriage
- but deserted working class wives had no property
- Infanticide: death sentence
- concealment: death sentence, changed to imprisonment
- severe penalties rarely enforced: many women desperate, many Working Class, faced disgrace, unemployment.
* ultimately brought in lower sentences for concealment, 2 years imprisonment
- Banned in 19th C
-- before "quickening": imprisonment
-- after "quickening: death
- Criminal: abortionist, not mother except in NS and NB: both charged.
- Penalty: death
- Prison more lik