We were told that the Constitution would shortly be reinstated, and that the state of emergency would soon be over. That was correct, but not in the way we’d assumed.

Aunt Lydia (as narrator) to legal changes following the takeover[1]

The Laws of God and His Servants (here) on Earth are the body of laws that apply in the Republic of Gilead[2].

Principle of Social Classes[edit | edit source]

 See also: Social Classes

The Republic of Gilead does not hold general equality before the law; the legal position of individuals is based on their affiliation to a certain social group called "class": While members of different classes can be sentenced variably for identical "crimes" (see Criminal Law), the individual legal protection within one social class appears uniform. In that spirit, the Gileadean class system "replaces" the Equal Protection Clause of the suspended Constitution of the United States.

Legal Specifics of Female Classes[edit | edit source]

Marital Status[edit | edit source]

Single women in Gilead must fear to be classed as "Unwomen", i.e. stripped of any human rights[3], which means they can be detained arbitrarily to be executed or obliged to force labor without trial[4][5]. However, prospective Unwomen are consistently offered to be married off or to "redeem" themselves as Martha[6], Handmaid[7], or Jezebel[8].

Due Process[edit | edit source]

Unlike married women and known male classes[9], some classes of unmarried women like Marthas and Handmaids lack the right to a fair trial, they have their mouth muzzled during trial when being charged.[10]

Ban of Property[edit | edit source]

Women in Gilead aren't allowed to own property, existing or acquired property is transferred to the next male relative[10], that includes non-linear relatives like nephews[3]. Exceptions may be made for the Widows of Commanders to inherit their estates, at least until they remarry.[11]

Ban of Alphabetization[edit | edit source]

Gileadean females who aren't classed as Aunts (or one of their subclasses) are not allowed to read or write. Any breech is punished by amputation of a finger or even a whole hand[12].

Criminal Law[edit | edit source]

Criminal law is absolute in Gilead, and is often based on literal and out-of-context interpretation of biblical verses. Any rule-breaking or subversion is harshly punished. Criminals are often executed ("salvaged") and their bodies displayed on central places like the Wall as a severe warning; other punishments called "Redemption" include mutilations or social reclassifications.

Abortion[edit | edit source]

The ban of abortion in Gilead is a retroactive "ex post facto law",[13] which means all who have performed abortions prior to the rise of Gilead are put to death or sent to the Colonies.[14]

Adultery[edit | edit source]

 See also: Adultery (main article)

Adultery is a punishable crime in Gilead, under reference to the Commandment Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).

Homosexuality ("Gender Treachery")[edit | edit source]

"Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones."
- Romans 1:26

Emily and a Martha are caught in a same-sex relationship, which is seen as "gender treachery" by Gileadean law (under reference to Romans 1:26-28) While the Martha is sentenced to death, Emily is sentenced to a practice called "Redemption" where her genitals are surgically mutilated.[15] See also: Discriminatory Legal Practice

Possessing Contraceptives[edit | edit source]

After their witnessed Ceremony, June Osborne meets Commander Lawrence in the kitchen where he passes her a packet of birth-control pills. June remarks that under the laws of Gilead, anyone possessing contraceptives would be punished by being ripped apart by dogs ("Witness")

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Testaments, V Van
  2. Episode 2.12, Postpartum;  See also: Late, June (Episode)
  3. 3.0 3.1 V Van
  4. Episode 3.3, Useful
  5. VII Stadium
  6. e.g. Maureen in Useful/Liars
  7. e.g. Heather in Other Women
  8. e.g. Moira in Jezebels/XII_Jezebels
  9. e.g. Econowife Eden and Guardian Isaac in Episode 2.12, "Postpartum"
  10. 10.0 10.1 Episode 1.3, Late
  11. VI Six For Dead
  12. see e.g. Episode 1.6, A Woman's Place
  13. Chapter XI Sackcloth
  14. Chapter II Shopping, Section 6
  15. Episode 3, "Late"

 See also: Laws in Gilead (Category)

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