The movie Gabriela is about the love affair of a bar owner and his cook/housekeeper. The movie tries to depict the culture of those days about how women and love affairs were handled. Towards the beginning of the movie a dead wife and her secret lover were killed by the husband. But later on in the movie when the main character finds his wife and best friend in bed together he spares their lives. He shows compassion for his loved ones and lets them live.
The movie and its theme was very interesting but according to Besse’s article from the Journal of Social History the movie was an understatement of the killings that were really going on there. Apparently between the 1910’s and 1930’s there was an outbreak of “Crimes of Passion.” The idea was nothing new to them under Portuguese Law it was legal for a married man to kill his wife and her lover if they were caught in an act of adultery. So even though it was no longer considered legal it was still socially accepted.
Revista Feminina, a popular woman’s magazine from the time wrote that in 1919 one woman every twelve hours was killed but by 1924 one woman every half hour was killed. Granted there is no telling how accurate that statement is but for a magazine to publish that there was obviously an increasing problem that needed to be addressed.
It is believed that a contribution to the crime wave could have come about because of the rise of woman rights. Women’s attitudes were changing making which was probably in turn upsetting their husbands. But the whole process was harmful on family ties. Families at that time especially were very important they were stability and comfort in a seemingly crazy and changing world.