Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV.: COMPULSORY IDLENESS OF LYING-IN WOMEN. - The Tyranny of Socialism
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER IV.: COMPULSORY IDLENESS OF LYING-IN WOMEN. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
COMPULSORY IDLENESS OF LYING-IN WOMEN.
Biblical Arguments—Female Agricultural Labourers—Inspectors of Agricultural Labour—Indemnity—The Budget—The Workers do not seem to contribute towards their Friends.
The Chamber of Deputies, at their sitting of 5th November, 1892, voted for a Bill, having for its object the prohibition of labour for women for four weeks after their confinement.
This Bill, originally brought forward by Messieurs Richard Waddington and de Mun, in the legislature of 1885, was taken up again by Dr. Dron. In support of it Dr. Dron found a Biblical argument. In chapter xii. of Leviticus, does it not admonish women to keep within doors for forty days after their delivery? And was not the taking of Jesus to the Temple deferred until after his mother had accomplished her purification? And still, exclaims Dr. Dron: “People pretend that these are matters that cannot be regulated.” You may easily see that Jesus regulated them. Then Dr. Dron brings forward a new argument which proves that these measures, which are laid before the French democracy as progressive, are merely backward steps. All these measures are fallacious to the point of fantasy. Agricultural labourers were not included in this Bill. It appears that a woman who is going to dig the earth does not need the rest to which it was proposed to subject her sisters. Upon the suggestion of Dr. Dron, the Chamber, perhaps in irony, included the agricultural labourers in the Bill. You should have seen the indignation of the supporters of this proposed law! But there is a way of getting over difficulties. For workshops and factories, the application of the law was handed over to Commissions and Inspectors already in existence. As soon as agricultural female labourers were included, it should have become necessary to nominate Inspectors of agricultural labour. As a first consequence of the law thus extended, officers should have been appointed, who would go up to farmers and landowners and say: “You have a newly delivered woman at home? You cause her to work? Such work is forbidden.—But it is my wife!—Would the Inspector have answered: Oh! the moment it is your wife, she has neither the right nor the obligation to rest?
In the law which restricts the labour of women, it was entirely forgotten—although I reminded them of it in the tribune—that if we prevent anyone from working, we are bound to indemnify them by compensation. The Commission entrusted with the examination of Dr. Dron’s project more logically proposed an indemnity of from 75 centimes to 2 francs per day. M. Pablo Lafargue did not neglect to outbid this, and to propose from 3 to 6 francs, according to the price of living in the neighbourhood where the married woman lived. Who was to pay this? The Commune! Then the Deputies recollected that if they offered this little gift to their Communes, they would never forgive them. The employer? A new tax upon the employer! Why not? Ought he not to be the beast of burden? But this objection was made, that to introduce this system would be tantamount to suppressing the labour of pregnant women. The employer, fearing this new burden, would be driven to making the most unwise investigations, and to closing the doors upon women who ran the risk of becoming a useless charge upon him. If this little game could have been played at the expense of manufacturers alone, the Chamber would have passed it over, but small land-owners and small farmers were also included. It was much more simple to saddle the general State budget with the expense. It would amount to from 8 to 10 millions francs. What is that in a budget of 3 thousand millions? Only this, that this contemptuous, “What is that?” is somewhat frequently repeated; that the budget increases accordingly, becomes inflated, and unhappily does not give the taxpayer that rest which Socialists are so willing to grant to the labourers at the expense of the taxpayers—as if the labourers were not taxpayers!.