The paper looks into how the British colonies outwardly spoke out against the status of women in India, and how their rule worked to reduce the rights in India. The research paper will also look into the history of British rule in India and the three laws that they introduced about gender roles in India particularly to women; the rules include the Indian divorce act, the inheritance law for widows and the abortion laws.
History of the British rule in India
Balaji V. (2013), states that the entry of British rule in India began in 1600 when the state was under the rule of Jahangir before the colonization of India by the Britain the country was well known for its power and influence to surrounding states, Britain knew they were to be smart in order to be able to overpower them and reign as their colonies.
Therefore the British rulers were deemed to enter India as traders in order to be able to make their move and overrule the state, an act that worked miraculously as they overpowered the Mughal rulers and proved to the world that India was weak. After that many other interested parties decided also to have a share of the state, for example, the East India Company.
The British had troops that were well trained in war tactics that were strategic, the timing was the primary weapon and made them succeed tremendously.in the year 1815 the British rule replaced after the defeat of the French revolution and the Napoleon. This gave way to the British government. The Aurangzebs rule in India was quite disappointed by the British penetration into India.
The divisions that existed between the Hindus who were non-Muslims and the Muslims caused major drift and divisions between the two religions and the state as a whole. This served as weak point that the British took action to ensure that their colonization tactics was a success. The drift between the two religions gave rise to many Hindu kings such as the Marathas. The East India Company also took advantage of this opportunity to enhance their divide and rule policy.
India had a weak point due to its weak navy army, unlike Britain and other islands, India army was too weak in comparison to surrounding islands. This served as an advantage to the British, who had a highly trained and tactical army. This allowed the state to take over cities in India like Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.
In 1757 the East India Company that was controlled by the British government profits from the vast raw materials in India. The state becomes its favorite colonies due to its abundance in tea and cotton prioritizing the company greatly. A century later the spy rebellion was hungry with the British as they learned that they were hiding cow and pork meat in their cartridges. This angered the Indias leading to the sepoys rebellion. The sepoys resistance was made up of India soldiers who were either Muslims or Hindus. The religion lack of support in eating pigs or cows led to a great fight between the British Army and the India rebellion army.
The British rule contrary to popular belief brought a lot of growth to the India economy. They, however, misused the Indians in their pursuit to develop the country. The births brought a lot of development in India sectors like infrastructure and telecommunications. However, they used the citizens hard labor for little pay in order to ensure the project was underway. Indians resulted in forming armies in pursuit of their country freedom and independence which took place in the year 1947.
Gender politics in India
Alex Buckley (2015char 42-43), the gendered state of India was largely influenced by the two largest religious sects which were the Hindu and the Muslims. The Hindu, in particular, believed that the womens role in society was simply to be of help and accompany the man their role was to take care of their man, their children, and the household.
The Muslim also, on the other hand, had no value for women in their lives their religion allowed them to hit their wives have multiple concubines and even diverse their current wives if they view them as undesirable.
Indian religion has an habit role in the decisions made by gender. Before the invasion of the British government and colonization in India, the state practiced high levels of women oppression that involved the live burning of a widows wife (sati) and female infanticide which included the murder of girl infants and unborn foetus.
This together with early child marriage led to the decrease of the female population due to deaths of women as a result of the pain and suffering they underwent under Hindu and Muslim traditions.
Liddle (253), states that the traditional practice in Indian women was due to their dowry systems, high levels of poverty and births to women who were divorced or not married. Photographs and artwork in museums in India and the rest of the world show that girl child marriage was practised in India and the women in the paintings were underage girls. In the year 1858 the east India trading company gave power to Britain to rule India under their practices and customs.
The British colonization in India lasted from 1857 to the year 1947; the British had different beliefs when it comes to the primitive cultures and traditions of the Hindu and Muslim culture. The British believed that women had the right to be protected and contribute to socio-economic and also political issues that affected their country or families. During their rule in India, they attempted to civilize the idea society by including laws that supported gender equity. The laws are as discussed below
1. The Indian divorce act
2. The abortion laws
3. Inheritance laws for widows
The Indian divorce act
The divorce act of India was enacted in April the year 1869; the law was to be operational to all citizens of India, following various debates between the Indians and their colonies who were the British. The act contained the following among different laws
1. That a solemnized marriage was not be dissolved by a court or great judge only to the extent that one or all the partners of the wedding have committed adultery
2. Has ceased to be a Christian or another religion by conversion
3. Has not been heard to be alive with seven years nor more
The culture of the Indians was very sophisticated and still is the fact that the British attempted to provide a middle ground that could cover all the customs of the Indian society was by far courageous. However, the blanket of laws was enacted under the view that all the citizens of the states were Christians.
It was therefore not in line with all the diverse religions that the state supported, the laws showed that one side of the coin was favoured and therefore and realistic in a multiparty state.
The abortion laws
The abortion law in India was enacted in 1971 it was introduced by the medical termination act with the aim of reducing cases of illegal abortion and the rate of maternal mortality among Indian women. Ritu Singh (2015).in a society that has major traditions and cultural beliefs sexuality in India is considered a taboo
Abortion was introduced after the colonization by the British the act was to enable women to have a right to make decisions considering her body and health.in the traditional days an Indian woman was considered as a mans property and had no right over her body. A woman would be taken for abortion if the sex of the unborn child was a female a situation that was not in line with the advanced world that surrounded the nation.
Most of the research done urges that the act was due to the rise in population in India and was an act to regulate the rate of childbirths. Contrary to that the law was in order to give the women the freedom and choice of deciding what to do with their bodies.it was also a move to reduce the rate of deaths and health problems that were associated with birth and abortions.
The inheritance law for widows
The succession act in India came into operation in the year 1925, and the action points out that If a person dies without a will, the inheritance is left to the wife or the husband. The laws that were enacted similarly to the divorce and marriage act were done with the ideas of the western world of the British as opposed to the traditions and the way of life of Indian society. In Indian culture contrary to the inheritance act when a woman is married she lives her home and lives with his husband family unit. Upon his death, the widow is not deemed to inherit the property contrary to that the inheritance is part and parcel of the whole family unit.
The British colonize worked in a clear stand on the rights of women in India, their role and aim of enlightening women in their rights of women did not ultimately work in their favor. It instils a lot of harshness from the Indians as it was contrary to the Indian system and way of life. The divorce, inheritance and abortion laws by the British were not well received as they were more of the western and Christian way of life in a Hindu and Muslim environment.
Alex Buckley (2015), gender oppression, inequality and gender roles in India and southwestern United States: edges of empire.30 April. Web 19th July 2016
Balaji.V (2013), how did the British colonize India?: Quora 27 may. Web 19th July 2016
The central government. The Indian divorce act 1869. October 2001. Web 19th July 2016
Ritu sigh (2015) abortion in India: all that you need to know: zeenews. July 2015. Web 19th July 2016
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