‘The Men Who Controlled Indian Women’—Indentureship, Patriarchy and Women’s ‘Liberation’ in Trinidad
During the indentureship period, 1845–1920, female labourers who migrated to Trinidad were constrained by the prevalence of patriarchal social norms. They were faced with patriarchal structures which hindered their ability to register and emigrate freely; regulated their behaviour on the ‘coolie’ ships and dictated their lifestyles on the plantations. Social and legal structures were used to prevent their free movement from India to Trinidad and within the Trinidad society. However, these female labourers often contested these patriarchal structures and renegotiated gender roles thereby creating a space for themselves in Trinidad plantation society. By the end of the indentureship system, approximately 75% of all the Indian women who had immigrated to the colony settled in Trinidad, embracing ‘new’ opportunities in Trinidad. Initially, there were attempts to control their lives but eventually, by the end of the indentureship system, Indian women in Trinidad had found creative ways to contest the diluted patriarchal system which existed in Trinidad.
KeywordsIndian indentureship Immigration to Trinidad Patriarchy Indian women
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