Status of Women in Hammurabi's Code Essay

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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 …show more content…
After all, it detailed all other options. If the husband simply ran away and deserted his wife, she was free to marry someone else. Even if he returned later he could not reclaim her as his property. This again shows how women had no choice but to follow the law instead of return to her first husband: (Pritchard 153). It seems as though women were supported by the ancient Near Eastern society only if they had children with their husbands. For example, a man could divorce his wife without giving any reasons, but if she had children with him, she was allowed to keep the children, keep the dowry, and get use of the property to raise her children. She was allowed to keep a portion of his estate equivalent to the number of sons she had and was free to marry somebody else (Pritchard 153). At marriage, property was set aside for the support of the woman after the death of her husband. She had the right to remain in the home for as long as she lived, but if she wanted to remarry when she became a widow, she would lose this property: "If her husband made her no gift, she shall be compensated for her gift and she shall receive a portion from the estate of her husband, equal to that of one child" (Pitchard 157).
In conclusion, women were purely a piece of property to men and while laws protected women from many abuses, they were extremely disadvantaged in ancient Near Eastern society. Both