British Sexualitites Sexual Contact

British Sexualitites Sexual Contact - Week 4 (9/22-9/24)...

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Week 4 (9/22-9/24) Sexual Contracts – Legislating Heterorotics and Venereal Diseases Paragraph Notes Love, Sex and Family Matters (Gray) Introduction o The popular concept of “Victorian values” of the time were often nasty and brutish o Throughout the period, and indeed until 1908, there was no law against incest o The hypocrisy of Victorian society is most clearly revealed in area of sexual and family matters However, the subject also illustrates the themes of how the evolving law reflected the values of society and, in so doing, made crimes of activities that had previously been legal for generations o Law was harsh on sexual crimes – Rape carried a punishment of life in prison with hard labor Attitude to homosexuality – similar view of both bestiality and homosexuality as a capital offence and the death penalty for sodomy until 1861 o Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 was proposed as a means of protecting young girls by raising the age of consent from 13-16 Included a clause making any sexual contact between men illegal whether public or private Unnatural offences; which included homosexual acts, carried a minimum sentence of ten years until the 1880s o Vagrancy Act of 1898 – included a clause criminalizing importuning for immoral purposes; on occasions, this was also used against homosexual men o Relations between the sexes led to many other problems including stalking Unwanted Children o In an age when family planning was not freely understood or easily available there was a large number of unwanted pregnancies o With no family allowance – single mothers were in difficult positions o Girls employed as servants would be thrown onto the street if they became pregnant
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For servant girls caught – disgrace was likely – despite long hours, life was preferable to many other forms of employment and many attempted to rid of their babies so they could keep their jobs o Thus there were many occasions when babies were murdered or their birth concealed Juries had no option but to find some of these cases guilty but recommended the mother to mercy Custodial sentences were automatic in such cases, but execution for the murder of a baby was very rare Judges gave moral lectures o Methods of disposing the baby varied – Cut her female baby into pieces before putting it in the water closet Wrap baby in the garden or garbage Most often servants were suspected but often denied it and unless baby was found as harmed they weren’t charged o Examples such as this reflect the pattern that cases of causing the death of an infant were increasingly likely to fail Often these were because juries were reluctant to convict Offences against Person Act of 1861 – included provision that charges of infanticide could be downgraded to concealment of birth in order to make conviction more likely Difficulty with all these cases remained the problem of proving that a live birth had occurred o
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British Sexualitites Sexual Contact - Week 4 (9/22-9/24)...

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