The Extent to Which Women Were Involved in the Dismantlement of S...

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The Extent to Which Women Were Involved in the Dismantlement of Slavery

By | March 2011
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HISTORY

To what extent were women involved in the dismantlement of the slave system?

Women were very much involved in the dismantlement of the slave system and were either enslaved or missionaries. They both played huge parts in the dismantlement of the slave system.

The enslaved women rarely rebelled with physical violence; they rebelled in the following ways. They would use their menstrual cycle as an excuse to be pardoned from work. Mothers would practice weaning, meaning that they would carry nursing their children longer than needed. In 1824, a law was passed that women were not to be flogged, therefore, women took advantage of this and became rowdy and rude to overseers and drivers. Domestic female slaves would slip poison into their master’s food and were familiar with herbs and spices involved in voodoo.

Women were also involved in the military vanguard in the Jamaican 1832 Rebellion. Many women helped organise rebellions, one of them being Nanny Grigg from the 1816 Barbadian Rebellion led by Bussa. She would encourage the enslaved population to rebel and one of her quotes are, “They were all damn fools to work, for that she would not, as freedom they were sure to get.” The enslaved women also escaped slavery to develop maroon villages. A perfect example would be Nanny of the Jamaican Maroons. She is now celebrated by Jamaica as a national heroine.

Women also earned a reputation for being “the more unmanageable element of the work force,” said by Robert Dirks. It is said that women fought harder for freedom as their lives were more affected than the enslaved men, meaning they faced humiliation both public and private as they were also sexually exploited by planters and overseers. This led to women murdering their “attackers”, committing suicide and to run away.

The following is part of the story of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. Mary Prince was born in Brackish Pond, Bermuda in 1788. As a child, she was sold to a master and given as a...

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