In Ancient Mesopotamia, one of the earliest civilizations in history, the status of women was much lower than that of men. They did not have as many rights and privileges as men did. They were expected to be submissive to their male guardian, whether it be a father or husband, and carry out their specific duties. According to the textbook, “A woman’s place was in the home, and failure to fulfill her expected duties was grounds for divorce…” (Duiker and Spielvogel 14). During this time, Hammurabi, who came into power and ruled most of Mesopotamia in 1792 B.C.E., developed a code of law known as the “The Code of Hammurabi” that described Hammurabi’s strict system of justice. Under the code, men had the ultimate authority over their families and society in general. The punishments for women who neglected their household duties and the law were severe compared to those for men who broke the law. “The Code of Hammurabi” states, “If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house, neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water” (143). This law is one of the several laws of the code regarding family, especially the relationship between a man and his wife. In the law, it says, “If a man’s wife be surprised…with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into water…” (129). Women were expected to stay faithful to their husbands since they were under their authority. This is also because the family unit was a key element to the development and growth
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In current times in America, the role of women and the role of men is about equal. When it comes to home life, it’s just as common for women to go out and work as it is for a man to do it. Women have even run for President. However, in the Harappan society in ancient India, and in Sumerian times in ancient Mesopotamia, the equality and respect of women weren’t as strong as it is today. Regardless, women were respected to a certain level. Overall, the respect of women in ancient India was similar to the respect of women in Mesopotamia because goddesses were seen as powerful, young women were admired, and women were highly regarded for being able to give birth.
In law 129 it states, “If a married lady is caught (in adultery) with another man, they shall bind them and cast them into the water.” (Doc C). This law will be just because in their time this punishment was fair and people shouldn’t disobey the law if they know the consequences. Law 148 states, “If a man has married a wife and a disease has seized her, if he is determined to marry a second wife, he shall marry her. He shall not divorce the wife whom the disease has seized. She shall dwell in the house they have built together, and he shall maintain her as long as she lives.” (Doc C). This was just because he was still married to her so she should have someone to take care of her. Also, Hammurabi states that “the strong might not injure the weak” so he needs to protect and take care of her (Doc B). When people still abided by these rules they were just so these laws were very much
In addition to these laws, Hammurabi’s laws were also gender biased .Laws for women were also unjust, gender biased and based on social classes. Women were not given an individual status according to these laws and also they weren’t allowed to trade and open their own business. Also, they did not have their individual rights. For instance, the law one hundred and twenty eight states that “ If a man take a woman to wife, but have no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him”. This law shows that the women were not treated equally and laws were based from the perspective of men and not the women. These laws also shows that how they were unjust to a women and suggest the social condition of them . Another law which states “If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband.” This was very wrong as it raised many questions about why only women were required to sacrifice and not men. Also, there was inequality between men and women as only men can choose their wife or perhaps buy her
* The Hammurabi code is definitely patriarchal. Most laws in the “Marriage and the family” section starts with an excerpt of “If a man”. This supposes that it is the males who are considered first. The Hammurabi code supports the patriarchal characteristic of Mesopotamian society. Additionally, a property law states
“If a man violate the wife of another man, who has never known a man, and still lives in her father’s house, and sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the wife is blameless” (Hammurabi).
To begin with, the family laws in Hammurabi’s code are usually pretty unfair in the way they handle family disputes. One example of this is shown in Law 195 when the Code states, “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off”(Document C). This is unfair because it treats the son as lesser than the father since he gets a worse punishment than the original offense. Which shows that this law is an unbalanced punishment for the offense. Another example of an unfair law pertaining to family manners is when law 168 states, “If a man has determined to disinherit his son and has declared before the judge, “‘I cut off my son,’ the judge shall inquire into the son’s past, and, if the son has not committed a grave misdemeanor…, the father shall not disinherit his son”(Document C). This shows how a law can take something that should be decided by an individual, but instead is taken into a decision by the
The Code of Hammurabi is one of history’s oldest and best – preserved written law which appeared in Mesopotamia around 1760 BCE. “It consists of customary norms that were collected toward the end of his reign and inscribed on a diorite stela set up in Babylon's temple of Marduk, the god of Babylonia. The 282 chapters include economic provisions (prices, tariffs, trade, and commerce), family law (marriage and divorce), as well as criminal law (assault, theft) and civil law (slavery, debt). Penalties varied according to the status of the offenders and the circumstances of the offenses. ” These laws considered words which sent by the Sun god Shamash to Hammurabi. Therefore, people believed that as long as they obey the laws, then they obey the god’s words.
Throughout Hammurabi's Code, it is made clear that the ancient Near East had a patriarchal system in which laws were needed to be put in place to grant protection to women from abuse. Laws placed restrictions on women's dowries and the manner in which divorce could occur. The state, therefore, recognized that women needed certain legal protections from male authority. Unfortunately, while such legal protections are granted, women are constantly addressed as a piece of property similar to slaves. Therefore, there are a few major issues in Hammurabi's Code that demonstrate how the individual rights of women took a back seat to social order and stratification in the ancient Near East. It was believed that a woman's sexuality should be
However, in Mesopotamia, the males subjugated the women. To stop married women from tempting other men, they were forced to cover their bodies, except for their faces, with veils. Women in Mesopotamia were often arranged into marriages, without a say on the subject. The Mesopotamian women had little impact on their society, while certain Egyptian women were able to gain highly influential positions in their society. One Egyptian woman even became the Queen of Egypt, alongside her son. Due to Egypt being less strict towards the women, Egyptian women were able to have a greater influence on their society. Although both civilizations were patriarchal, they varied on how strict they were towards women.
The Code of Hammurabi was a strict, harsh, and unequal way of punishment that focused on current attainable penalties for Mesopotamian society. The society wasn’t religious, they did not have any affiliations with spiritual beings, which is why punishments were needed for the specific moment
The Law Code of Hammurabi is a native Babylonian text that served as the basic law code of society. The way of life was of the former Babylonians culture is totally different than what we are used to today. The text gives readers a vision of how ancient societies lived in these times. This law code gave society a diverse arrangement for citizens to follow. The social structure isn’t about wealth, they are judged by different standards (such as trial by ordeal). The husband is the dominant role of the house. The family structure is a patriarchal household and the power of the father is absolute. The Law Code of Hammurabi gives readers a clear thought of how unfair the earlier civilization of Babylonians existed through class structures, gender relations, and family structures.
This led to justifying male domination over females in the Mesopotamian society. Men were in control and held the power, allowing them to abuse their wives, sell them into slavery to pay off debts, and partake in consensual sexual relations even if married, while women were drowned to death as punishment for committing adultery. In Mesopotamia, women were mostly responsible for tending to the children and household. Women did not have the power to make life decisions for themselves and instead, relied on the men in their family to make those decisions for them.
Throughout time many civilizations and societies have come and gone. Every one of them was unique in their own way and had a different way of governing themselves. In this paper, I will be focusing on Hammurabi’s Code. Hammurabi’s Code is a series of laws that governed the Babylonian society back, when they were created, in 1780 BCE. The code was wrote by Hammurabi himself, back when he ruled the Empire of Babylon. The text itself explains why the code was created and why Hammurabi was chosen to write the code. The code then lists, in an organized fashion, all the rules that the society is to follow and what the punishments are if the rules are broken. Every rule is very specific about what is to happen if the rule has to be enforced. Hammurabi’s Code gives us an idea of how the justice system worked in the Babylonian society, how men and women in the society were treated, and how the religion was followed.
Men had privileges that woman did not have. Some laws protected the women in some ways, for example, “if a man divorced his wife because she did not bear him a son, he had to provide her with money”. (3) Other laws direct to the thought of women being way less than men. Where women’s word does not matter, only her negative actions and they are equally punished. The Mesopotamian government shows more violent solutions to their crimes and the Egyptians themselves.
Mesopotamian women did not have very much freedom at all. They were expected to follow the laws of Hammurabi’s code, which were not very fair to women. “The Mesopotamian woman's role was strictly defined. She was the daughter of her father or the wife of her husband. Women rarely acted as individuals outside the context of their families. Those who did so were usually royalty or the wives of men who had power and status.” (oi.uchicago.edu, 2010) Mesopotamian women were very limited to what they could or could not do.