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.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
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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