Between Women: Indenture, Morality and Health

History

Indentured women in Fiji collectively challenged their exploitation in the sugar-cane plantations from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The primary forum used to articulate their grievances and oppose their maltreatment was the Indian Women’s Committee. The activism of this Committee was particularly intense from 1913 to 1920 when its platform intersected with international campaigns in India to abolish the indenture system. During this period, parallel resistances were mounted by the Australasian Committee of Inquiry into the Social and Moral Conditions of Indentured Women in Fiji. This Committee, comprising Australian, New Zealand and Indian women, adopted transnational principles to advance the social and moral position of indentured women in Fiji. While the Committee may be critiqued for furthering patriarchal constructions of morality and femininity that converged with discourses of colonialism, imperialism and Indian nationalism, this article will demonstrate that it simultaneously played a critical role in improving the quality of life for indentured women in Fiji, particularly in the area of women’s health.

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Journal Article
Submitted by Margaret Mishra
April 1, 2021
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