Story: Divorce and separation

Different views of divorce

Different views of divorce

This 1894 cartoon of a clergyman turning a blind eye to a man beating his wife was published while women were actively campaigning for equality in divorce laws. It shows two very different views of married life. Church opposition to divorce was staunch: marriage was a sacrament, a union blessed by God, that no man should put asunder. Divorce also allowed a man to avoid supporting and caring for his family. Without that support, mother and children would struggle to survive. Those campaigning for women’s easier access to divorce also believed they were acting in women’s best interests, allowing them to escape from abusive husbands.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: H-713-123
Cartoon by William Blomfield

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Megan Cook, 'Divorce and separation - 19th-century divorce and desertion', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/cartoon/29829/different-views-of-divorce (accessed 28 January 2020)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 8 Nov 2018