Ancient Legal Structure of Greek essay
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The fate of the children from a crumbling family was more defined in the ancient Greece as compared to what we had in the developed world up to a few decades ago. According to the ancient legal structure of the Greek, a wife who had a child during their periods of separation was legally bound to bring the child to the husband so that he could assume paternal responsibility. It was only after the occasion of the husband’s refusal to take up the child that the law allowed the mother to have the responsibility. Although it seemed to suggest that the man was given a bigger say in decision of the fate of the children including those born out of wedlock, it certainly served to prevent the rampant cases of separation and divorce that have become part of the society today. It is perfectly understandable that the family has become a weaker institution today than it was prescribed in the ancient society. However, an attempt to compare this with the prevailing situation in the world suggests that the society is actually moving backwards. In the remote parts of Asia, the husband automatically retains the custody of children in case of a divorce or a separation. This certainly shows no cognizance of the fact that women should also take the responsibility for family issues. Essentially, this shows that the concerned societies only see women as “vessels” of child bearing for their husbands and the larger society. In some instances, they are totally denied access to these kids, especially when the society considers them to have deviant behavior from the rest of the society, thereby denying them their rights for self-determination (Blevins, Carolyn DeArmond).
The fate of a widowed woman portrayed a more assertive woman than the situation is in many societies today. In ancient Greece in particular, a widow may have chosen to re-marry while at the same time keep a good portion of what her husband left behind in accordance with the nature and content of their written agreement. This gave them leverage with the male counterparts who according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle had all the rights of inheritance especially concerning property acquired from war. This is a complete contrast to what happens in the communities living around the western parts of Kenya, for instance. The cultural practices of these people make it unholy to have the woman control the family wealth, especially when the husband had brothers. This practice has caused several disputes that often leave people dead as they try to determine the immediate relative to inherit the family property. Although it looks realistic considering that the women make very little contribution to the creation of the family wealth, it does not take into account the significant issue of human rights. It is widely acknowledged that women find it quite hard to pick up the pieces in case their husbands pass away because of the obvious social biases. This even becomes worse when the members of the husband’s family decide to thwart their efforts. Moreover, these societies prefer to keep the children within the community even if the woman prefers to leave. Although it is intended to ensure continuity of the deceased families, it does not consider the welfare of the children who are often left behind destitute even if their mother would have been able to provide for them. Further, the emotional comfort of the mother is seriously compromised when they are denied custody of the children. Considering their typical kind of emotional attachment to their kids, this kind of practice has been used to keep them tied up to the husband’s community against their wishes (Davies, 1996).
These ancient Greek laws seem to have been largely similar to the world’s practices concerning the choice of a marital partner. Although their restrictions had to do with social and economic status, they certainly went against the basic human rights of a woman. For instance, heiress was supposed to marry the first born son of her uncle in the absence of which she would proceed to marry from the house of the other uncles. This was a typical kind of restriction that has seen many women in the Arab world get their marital partners identified early in their lives. This situation often leaves a woman with no say regarding who they want to marry, as this is considered to be disobedience by the community. Often the identified marital partners are much older than the ladies and this pressures them into early marriages. In the end, young ladies end up in marriages early in their lives to the extent that they sacrifice their pursuit of education. These practices are not socially healthy although they were both initially aimed at ensuring the safety of the women in their marriages and that they only got married to people who were well known to their families (Blevins, Carolyn DeArmond).
Notably, a lot of gains have been made in the recent past in the global arena, especially after women earned the right to participate in the electoral process. This has enabled them to elect leaders, who care more for their plight, as opposed to what was the case previously. For instance, the emergence of Margaret Thatcher as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was seen as a major step towards empowering women or at least giving them a level playing field for their social pursuit. Due to such achievements and the increasing number of well-educated and assertive women, the global society has lately embarked on the major programs that are geared towards promotion of the welfare of women. This has seen the rise of non governmental institutions like “National Organization for Women” and “Operation Save America” to the occasion of empowering the women in America and, by extension, in the world. They basically seek to assure women not to accept any form of intimidation from the society in the political and academic fields (Davies, 1996).
Meanwhile, the global community continues to wonder when exactly the rain started beating them in as far as the place of women in the society is concerned. The moves towards a gender sensitive society started long ago but achieved very little several millenniums later. Indeed, it is widely accepted that had the trend from the Greek society been kept alive, the world today would not have rampant cases of sexual violence today. Besides, the oppressive tendencies that often appear during divorce processes would be things of the past. However, not everything is lost as the mindset of the general society can still be tuned to look at the women as equal humans who deserve their dignity (Blevins, Carolyn DeArmond).