How was a white woman of Spanish descent protected from physical abuse from the state powers compared to a black female slave or mulatto (basically non-white)?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Colonial Latin America, the Spanish women who migrated were few in number. They were protected from men, and because there were so few, these women were quite privileged in the New World. Nevertheless, female behavior was proscribed, and Spanish women were not allowed to behave like men. Some of the secular women lived in the convents where they could be educated, and were thus also well-protected. Moreover, the Catholic Church promoted the existence of a social hierarchy which, therefore, afforded Spanish women social privilege over other women and did not work in positions given only to non-Spanish. 

On the other hand, Indian women were mistreated. For example, they were sometimes the mistresses of the monks, even. Many Indios were kidnapped and used by men. However, some Spanish married the indigenous women so that they could have heirs, and these women were treated better. But, more abuse for such women came later, as industry developed, especially textiles, and the non-Spanish women worked on looms in their homes, or they worked in objares, workshops, in which conditions were very bad. Many native women were also domestic servants, who had few rights, either.