What do the readings suggest about the quality of free-immigrant womens' citizenship in colonial Australia? In what ways were the experiences of free-immigrant women related to those of convict women?

Topics: Prostitution, Social class, Working class Pages: 4 (1151 words) Published: August 22, 2014
The experiences of free immigrant women in colonial Australia suggest a quality of women's citizenship similar to that of transported women. The readings place importance on the role of female immigration in the history of colonial Australia, however an examination of free-immigrant women’s citizenship indicates that their experiences are closely associated to those of convict women transported to Australia. At the heart of this relationship is that colonial elite saw single female immigration as unnatural, even immoral. The independence of these women who had journeyed unaccompanied to the colony translated into rhetoric of immorality, which over time was shaped to a perception of sexual depravity. The strength of the perception that all women in the penal colonies were whores conveyed that free immigrant women who were not convicts became its victim also. Consequently, women in colonial times had lack of rights, lower social status, alleged low morality and perceived prostitution. The term free-immigrant woman refers to any women who immigrated to Australia voluntarily whether this is self-funded or government assisted. Whilst the convicts had been forcibly transported, the immigrants, mostly from the working classes of Britain, had elected to immigrate. Single female domestic servants made up a large proportion of government-assisted immigrants to Australia during the peak time 1848-1859. However a lack of employment opportunities for women lead to the creation of a pauper class for colonial women, convicts, ex-convicts and the free alike, forcing a low social status and lack of rights upon them. This was largely due to the perception that domestic servants were considered all in all indecent and unchaste, with minimal possibility of marrying. Whilst immigrant woman were sought after as potential wives and as household staff, they were widely perceived as being unchaste, having travelled unaccompanied. Furthermore, nineteenth-century employers of...

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