2 National Laws on domestic violence


National laws in European countries are based either on Roman law (e.g. Germany) or the French “code civil” (e.g. France, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, and Netherlands). Both juridical systems regarded women as subordinate to men. With marriage, women were subject to the husband’s guardianship of the husband. According to §213 of civil code, the husband was obliged to protect his wife, whereas her duty was to obey. In Roman law, family, house and courtyard were subordinated to ‘major domus’, the man of the house (patria potestas). He had the unrestricted right to issue corporal punishment to his subordinates (ius vitae necisque). In the Middle Ages, the right of corporal punishment was attenuated; now the husband was allowed to punish his wife only in cases of adultery, disobedience and when she contradicted him.

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European Commission and the German Federal Ministry of Family, Seniors, Women and Youth.

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