‘Your Woman is a Very Bad Woman’: Revisiting Female Deviance in Colonial Fiji

History

This article sets out to retrieve two accounts of female deviance in colonial Fiji. It will posit rule-breaking behavior as a reaction to colonial and patriarchal efforts to regulate female behavior and sexuality. The article simultaneously aims to undo rigid categorizations of female deviance by relating such acts to historical circumstance. Police records, court proceedings and news items from The National Archives of Fiji are cited to show how indigenous Fijian woman, Davilo, and
indentured Indian woman, Sukhrania, transgressed socially constructed paradigms of morality by procuring abortions in 1884 and engaging in prostitution in 1909, respectively. By relabeling these alleged acts of deviance as survival strategies emerging out of women’s experiences of ‘double colonization’, this article will reconstruct two ‘minor’ anecdotal fragments awkwardly wedged within the realm of ‘mainstream history’.

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Journal Article
Submitted by Margaret Mishra
April 1, 2021
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