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Women in HerStory

Women in HerStory- Mary Lee

Mary Lee (née Walsh) (February 14, 1821 – September 18, 1909) was an Irish-Australian suffragist and social reformer in South Australia.

Mary Walsh was born in Ireland. She was married in 1844 to George Lee. The couple had seven children however little more is known about her life in Ireland. Her son Ben moved to Adelaide, Australia. When he fell ill in 1879, Mary and her daughter, Evelyn, immigrated to Australia. They travelled on the maiden voyage of the steamship “Orient”. Her son died on November 2, 1880.

In 1883 Mary became active in the ladies’ committee of the Social Purity Society. The Society advocated changes to the law relating to the social and legal status of young women, advocating an end to child labour to protect girls from abuse and preventing them from becoming prostitutes or child brides. The group’s success was a passage in the 1885 “Criminal Law Consolidation Amendment Act” that raised the age of consent from 13 to 16.  

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