• 'The Handmaid's Tale' on SBS On Demand. (SBS)Source: SBS
Dystopian future or horrifying reality?
By
Jenna Martin

11 May 2017 - 1:41 PM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2018 - 12:43 PM

The Handmaid’s Tale has been the must-see drama of the last two years in large part due to the fact that the dystopian future it suggests has never seemed more terrifyingly possible.

The series is set in a world where women are divided into classes: wives, daughters, servants, mistresses… where they’re forced into arranged marriages, housebound, forbidden from reading or studying and regularly raped, turned into literal baby-making factories to keep the species going.

But just how close are we to this darkness?

According to these laws, which help ensure that the lives of women are controlled by men, we may already be there...

 

Parental rights for rapists

After trying nine times, the US state of Maryland finally terminated a rapist's parental rights, but there are still many states where there is no legislation barring a rapist from suing for visitation or custody rights of any child born as a direct result of that rape.

 

'Marry your rapist' laws

Such colonial-era laws are being increasingly abolished, but in some countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Syria, a man can legally escape prosecution for raping a woman as long as he marries her.

Last year, Lebanon ended its version of the law after an outcry...

 

Legalised marital rape

Thanks in part to a poor record on fighting violence against its female population, this year's Thomas Reuters Foundation (highly questionedreport declared India to be the most dangerous country in the world for women. And despite recent protestations, it is still legal for a man to rape his wife as long as she's over 15-years-old.

 

Male guardianship

They are now allowed to drive, but women in Saudi Arabia are not able to marry, travel, or seek higher education without permission from a male guardian - a father, brother, husband or even an adult son. 

 

No right to divorce

In Israel, women are forbidden from obtaining a divorce unless they have the permission of their husbands. In some circumstances, non-Israeli Jewish women being held captive in a marriage - "chained" women - may be allowed a religious divorce.

 

Season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale airs Thursdays at 8:30pm on SBS. Previous episodes are streaming at SBS On Demand:

more on the guide
The Handmaid's Tale renewed for season 2
Ahead of its July debut on SBS On Demand, The Handmaid's Tale has been renewed for a second season.
'The Handmaid’s Tale' is coming to Australia on SBS On Demand
The highly anticipated adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel The Handmaid’s Tale makes its Australian premiere exclusively on SBS On Demand, with the full series available to stream from Thursday, 6 July.