Colombian illegitimacyEdit This Page

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Illegitimacy in the 1800's and into the 1900's was extremely common in Colombia due to a variety of historical factors.  Under Charles III of Spain the Pragmatic Sanction on Marriages was enacted in Spanish colonies in 1778.  It disallowed matrimony between any racial or social unequals, and while it was designed for those of European descent, it was used widely throughout Colombia and all social classes.

Around the early 1800's, research in Bogotá shows that women greatly outnumbered men and it is argued that they thus had a “weak position in the urban marriage market” resulting in the common practice of concubinage, except among the elite upper white class . Marriage became a status symbol with benefits conferred by legitimacy; delineating socio-economic classes and races by limiting mobility in the social hierarchy and entrenching legal discrimination and poverty. As a result, concubinage, long-term informal unions, and illegitimacy, “hijos naturales,” became the norm in lower classes. By 1801, 59 percent of households were headed by women, as compared to 20-40 percent in Mexico (Dueñas Vargas).

Also of note, there were distinctions made between "hijos naturales" where the father was known and often in a long-term relationship with the mother, and "padre desconocido" where the father was unknown.  Jobs and social status was greatly affected by this distinction, despite both being illegitimate. 


Los hijos del pecado: ilegitimidad y vida familiar en la Santafé de Bogotá colonial, Guiomar Dueñas Vargas


 

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