Women in Slavery

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The notion of slavery, as unpleasant as it is, must nonetheless be examined to understand the hardships that were caused in the lives of enslaved African-Americans. Without a doubt, conditions that the slaves lived under couldbe easily described as intolerable and inhumane. As painful as the slave's treatment by the masters was, it proved to be more unbearable for the women who were enslaved. Why did the women suffer a grimmer fate as slaves? The answer lies in the readings, Harriet Jacob's Incidents in the life of a Slave Girl and Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative which both imply that sexual abuse, jealous mistresses', and loss of children caused the female slaves to endure a more dreadful and hard life in captivity. It is a difficult predicament to be in when one is held in captivity. The situation is that much worse if a child finds himself held as a slave. From a young age the child must endure the fact that he is owned and not free to live life on his own terms. A child slave is already denied his freedom and childhood in the sole fact that he is a slave. However, female child slaves had to endure yet another hardship that made life that much more difficult. Young African girls that were enslaved were sexually abused from an early age. Olaudah Equiano, in Interesting Narrative, tells of misfortunes that the female slaves met with at the hands of white men that he witnessed aboard a ship that belonged to his master, he writes: "I have even known them gratify their brutal passion with females not ten years old" (p. 483) Equiano claims that even very young slaves were savagely attacked in a sexual way. This fact shows how difficult the life of a female slave was. Because of such gruesome occurrences as the sexual attacks, it would certainly be safe to assume that the young slave girls were not only physically hurt but also emotionally distraught. They were prone to grow into young women who felt stripped of their dignity and carried the...
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