PAKIRI. AUCKLAND. By the mid-1800s, conversations were being had surrounding further expansion of women’s rights within marriage, and their access to education and employment. Due to the women’s rights movements, women had more opportunities in life. They received greater access to education. Also, for the first time, they could take on work outside of the home. Women became accepted in certain occupations in society, they were finding work as cooks, teachers, nurses and secretaries.
The first major victory for the movement came in 1860 with the ‘Married Women’s Property Protection Act’, which allowed women to keep any money they earned if they were deserted by their husbands.
Women were given the right to divorce their husbands in 1867 under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act. For men to obtain a divorce they had to prove their wife had committed adultery. However, for women to obtain a divorce they had to prove their husband had committed adultery plus an act of either: incest, bigamy, rape, sodomy, bestiality, desertion of at least two years or extreme, brutal cruelty.
By 1874, women’s rights had come a long way since the turn of the century, but there was still a long road ahead. The long road to equality had only just begun.
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