Critical Essay on Hammurabi's Code of Laws: Analysis of Women's Rights

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Women of Babylonians had to sign a contract before they got married, and they need to be faithful to their husbands. The role of women was to take care of the family and had a child before developing their own careers which promoted the economic development of society. In Babylonian families, women were inferior to husbands and brothers.

In Babylonian times, husbands were the center of families as slave owners, and both the wives and the slaves served the husbands. Wives were like guardians of the home. They took care of the household for their husbands and managed the slaves. The code of Hammurabi 141 was introduced, when a seignior’s wife decided to leave in order to concentrate on her career, ignoring her house, and humiliating her husband, If her husband decided to divorce, he may divorce, without giving her property when she divorced. If her husband has not decided on her divorce, her husband may marry another female and live with the former wife in the husband's house like a maid. (CP,)Ignoring the family and abusing the husband of Babylonian wives was not allowed by laws. The family was the center of a woman who had to take care of her family and her husband before she did anything. This was the Babylonian pattern of life men went out to make money and women took care of the family. If both the wife and the husband develop their own business, their family affairs couldn’t be managed well. Thus, there was this kind of law to restrict wives. If the law was violated, the wife would get nothing or be abandoned by the husband. Because of these laws, which punish women for abusing their husbands, The wife didn’t dare to neglect her husband. Thus, the law formed a model of serving husbands.

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Although the model limited women's freedom to do much of what they wanted and to get divorced, she could still be divorced and took away all her property if the wife went to city court to defend herself. As Chapter 142 of the code of Hammurabi introduced, 'If a woman so hated her husband that she has declared,' You may not have me, ' her record shall be investigated at her city council, and if she was careful and was not at fault, even though her husband has been going out and disparaging here greatly, that woman, without incurring any blame at all, may take her dowry and go off to her father's house. ' Although a wife's status was lower than a husband's, it didn't mean she didn't have any status. Although the law favors the husband's interests, it still protected the wife's fundamental rights as a human being. Women could still have the right to revolt and reached their own purpose as long as they didn’t have a fault, the husband couldn’t stop divorcing with his wife to protect her interests. However, a wife must make sure to take good care of her husband and not insult him or neglect the family, so that she could protect her own interests.

The Babylonian women drove the economic development of society. While we know that wives need to take care of their families, it didn’t mean they had to stay home every day. There were still many women who had their own careers, such as priestesses, poets, tavern-keepers, weavers, and cooked drinks, especially beer. In chapter 111 of the Code of Hammurabi, there was also a reference to the occupation of a woman wine seller. Although these occupations did not have a very high social status like men did, they still gave Babylonian women some choices. Women's occupations provided the most basic security for modern society, and their occupations were generally in business, which provided a lot of wealth for Babylon.

In ancient Babylon, women's marriage was similar to the trade of goods. Marriage must be clearly priced and signed a contract to ensure the interests of both parties. In the code of Hammurabi, 128, “If a seignior acquires a wife, but did not draw up the contracts for her, that woman is no wife.” The contract is proof of marriage just like when we buy and sell goods, we also need to pay a deposit and sign a contract to ensure the interests of both if we can't immediately spend money to buy the goods. This kind of marriage model could guarantee one party to get reasonable compensation when breaking the contract, but this kind of compensation was not equal for the man and the woman. Chapter 159 of the code of Hammurabi claims, if a seignior had given his betrothal gift to the house of his father-in-law but fell in love with another woman and refused to marry his daughter, the daughter's father will keep the wedding gift. Chapter 160 of the code of Hammurabi claims, 'If a seignior had the betrothal gift - brought to the house of the (prospective) father-in-law, (and) paid the marriage - price and the father of the daughter has then said, “I will not give my daughter to you', he shall pay back double the full amount that was brought to him.” We knew from these two laws that the marriage price would be taken away by the other party if they broke the contract, which was like they would not get their deposit back if people were not prepared to buy the thing which paid the deposit. This was a kind of security for both parties, but at the same time, this way of marriage was against the true meaning of marriage that both men and women should be married together because of love. However, these laws make marriage more like a transaction, and women traded goods.

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Critical Essay on Hammurabi’s Code of Laws: Analysis of Women’s Rights. (2023, July 20). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-hammurabis-code-of-laws-analysis-of-womens-rights/
“Critical Essay on Hammurabi’s Code of Laws: Analysis of Women’s Rights.” Edubirdie, 20 Jul. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-hammurabis-code-of-laws-analysis-of-womens-rights/
Critical Essay on Hammurabi’s Code of Laws: Analysis of Women’s Rights. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-hammurabis-code-of-laws-analysis-of-womens-rights/> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
Critical Essay on Hammurabi’s Code of Laws: Analysis of Women’s Rights [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jul 20 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/critical-essay-on-hammurabis-code-of-laws-analysis-of-womens-rights/
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