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As previously mentioned, marriage was defined as a legal contract, if one partner broke the contract, the other could sue for violation of contract. Husbands could divorce wives who were undutiful by returning them to their families or by reducing them to the rank of servants. Wives could similarly divorce their husbands for cause and take their dowries with them as they left. A man could sell his wife to discharge a debt. Adultery and sexual perversions were very severely punished.