What was the condition of women during the British rule in India?

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Better than it had been before, but still not all that great. When they established the Raj, the British introduced a lot of Western ideas and institutions into India, some good, some bad. One of the good ones was women's rights, and the British quickly moved to end a number...

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Better than it had been before, but still not all that great.

When they established the Raj, the British introduced a lot of Western ideas and institutions into India, some good, some bad. One of the good ones was women's rights, and the British quickly moved to end a number of cultural practices in various regions of India that were particularly oppressive to women.

A famous example was the burning of widows; this was never all that common, but it was something certain Hindu sects did. The British banned it.

They also instituted age minimums for marriage; previously, girls who hadn't even entered puberty could be pressed into marriage with adult men. In 1891, the British raised the minimum age to 12, so that girls would at least be pubescent before they could be married.

The British instituted some reforms in the property and inheritance system, so that women could own and inherit property in some circumstances---but there was still a substantial bias toward men.

The Raj also established a public education system, and worked to improve literacy, especially for women; literacy had previously been essentially zero in most villages, and many male Hindu nationalists considered educating women to be a threat to their masculinity and their way of life.

Many of these reforms had quite positive effects, but they had a darker side; they were frequently used as an excuse for maintaining oppressive rule over India, because the people of India were seen as "too primitive" to be entrusted with their own rule. The very real oppression of women in many parts of India was used as an excuse by the British to justify a different form of oppression.

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