Life in the colony of Victoria during the 19th century was very difficult for women. If unable to cope without husbands or work they'd survive by theft or prostitution. Life in prison was of course, no better. Although men and women were held in separate cells they were still in close contact of each other and the women were often exposed to degrading and dangerous situations. The prison officers were more fierce and rough towards the females than the males. Even the Discharged Prisoner's Aid Society (a group of people who help to rehabilitate ex-prisoners back into the society) refused to help women.
In 1893, Emma Williams came to Melbourne from Tasmania but there wasn't much work and life became increasingly difficult. She became pregnant and soon after, her husband died of a disease called typhoid. She couldn't support herself and her baby so she tried to give her son to a baby farmer who is a person similar to a baby sitter, but she couldn't give up her son.
Finally she had to resort to prostitution for survival.
In late August 1895, she was found guilty of drowning her own baby. Despite petitions against her execution, Emma was hanged.
Emma's story represents the actions some women were forced to take in order to survive during the 1800's.
Eventually, action was taken to make life better for women; they were separated entirely from the men in prison and a woman's refuge shelter was built for those who were struggling to cope. Since then, many more shelters have been built and general treatment of woman has improved.