Nineteenth Century Judicial Attitudes Toward Child Custody, Rape and Prostitution
Constance B. Backhouse
University of Ottawa - Common Law Section
Sheilah L. Martin and Kathleen E. Mahoney, eds., Equality and Judicial Neutrality (Toronto: Carswell, 1987) 271-281
Canadian jurisprudence in cases involving child custody, rape and prostitution throughout nineteenth century illustrates that the judiciary espoused a rigid view of women's role as subordinate in families and society. Judges also embraced a double-standard in expectations of women's and men's sexual morality. Judicial decisions were not merely a reflection of the social realities at the time; judges opposed efforts to advance women's status, and systematically tried to restrict women to traditional roles in a society that privileged men. The author examines decisions in child custody and rape to show significant bias in favour of fathers and claimants. Judicial permissiveness of prostitution was not the result of an anomalous desire to protect women, but to protect prostitution as an institution. Judicial attitudes consistently protected the freedom and power of men over women in nineteenth-century Canada.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: child, custody, rape, families, sexual, morality, status, prostitution, nineteenth, century, judicial, women, feminist, judicial, Canada, Canadian, law, legal
Date posted: May 19, 2013