Struggle for Raising Women’s status : Abolition of Sati System, Widow Marriage Act, Consent Bill,Stress on Female education

Struggle for Raising Women’s status Patriarchy remains deeply entrenched in Indian social structure, influencing the structure of its political and social institutions and determining the opportunities open to women and men. The negotiation and conflict between patriarchy and the women’s movement are central to the Struggle for Raising Women’s status in Indian Society. Ignorance and illiteracy of Women had given birth to innumerable social evils like sati (bright burning), child marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage, dowry, devadasi system etc.

Sati or suttee is an obsolete Hindu funeral custom where a widow immolates herself on her husband’s pyre or commits suicide in another fashion shortly after her husband’s death.The high incidence of sati in Bengal province during colonial period was due to the existence of Dayabhaga system which gave property rights to the childless widow and therefore in order to keep the property rights of the family intact, the widow was forced to go sati.Raja Rammohan Roy’s  efforts to fight the social evils were  supported by the then Governor General of India, Sir William Bentinck. A law was passed in 1829 making Sati illegal and punishable. He also made efforts to advocate widow re-marriage and condemned child marriage. He advocated the importance of Vedas in reforming religion and upheld the fundamental unity among all religions.He started a campaign for the abolition of sati, condemned polygamy and concubinage, denounced casteism, advocated the rights of Hindu widows to remarry. He rejected Christianity . denied the divinity of Jesus Christ , but accepted the humanism of Europe Thus, Rammohan Roy sought to effect a cultural synthesis between the East and the West.

The Hindu Widows’ Remarriage Act of 1856, enacted in response to the campaign of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, provided legal safeguards against loss of certain forms of inheritance for a remarrying Hindu widow, though, under the Act, the widowforsook any inheritance due her from her deceased husband.Ishwar Chandra
Vidyasagar championed women education and campaigned hard for widow remarriage. Parsi social reformer, Behramji Malabari also campaigned for widow remarriage and published a set of notes on ‘Infant Marriage’ and ‘Enforced Widowhood’

The Age of Consent Act, 1891, also Act X of 1891, was a legislation enacted in British India on 19 March 1891 which raised the age of consent for sexual intercourse for all girls, married or unmarried, from ten to twelve years in all jurisdictions, its violation subject to criminal prosecution as rape.

The  Woods Despatch  of  1854  put  stress  on  female education  in  India.  The  report  observed  that  the importance  of  female  education  in  India  cannot be overrated; and we have observed with pleasure the evidence which is now afforded of an increased desire on the part of many of the natives of India to give a  good education  to their daughters.

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