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While the slavery issue (which eventually changed into servitude, which got changed into indenture, which - after many, many years - got changed into personal loans and mortgages...) is one of the less savoury aspects in Roman society, women actually did have clearly defined rights in the Roman age. They could own property, had the right to marry or divorce, the right to re-marry after a divorce or after being widowed, etc. The problem was that the patriarch had even more clearly defined rights which he could wield over anyone in the household, from his wife to his slaves. Women did not have the right to vote, nor the right to be voted into any office (other than some religious positions). Then again, these rights are a recent (less than 100 years old) addition to many if not most modern states...

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