Experiences of women estate workers during the apprenticeship period in St Vincent, 1834-38: The transition from slavery to freedom
UNSPECIFIED. (2001) Experiences of women estate workers during the apprenticeship period in St Vincent, 1834-38: The transition from slavery to freedom. WOMENS HISTORY REVIEW, 10 (3). pp. 381-407. ISSN 0961-2025Full text not available from this repository.
In 1834, the British Government abolished slavery in the British Caribbean. In order to appease slave owners, the Government awarded them pound 20 million compensation money and initiated an apprenticeship period. The aim of the apprenticeship period was to provide a transition from slave to wage labour and tie the ex-slaves to their owners for a further six years. The apprenticeship period was marred by repressive acts by planters against their workers. Women were especially singled out for abuse and lost many of the rights they had gained during slavery. Apprenticeship was eventually abandoned in 1838. Stories of excessive cruelty convinced the colonial authorities that the working relationship between apprentices and managers within the sugar estates had not improved. This article examines the experiences of women apprentices in St Vincent to highlight the indignities that they faced. It also explores the actions that some women employed to improve their working conditions. Previous studies of the Caribbean have mainly focused on the slavery period or the twentieth century. There has so far been little attention paid to the lives of African-Caribbean women immediately after the abolition of slavery. This study helps to explain why so many women withdrew from estate work as soon as they were fully free and chose instead to concentrate on growing and marketing provision crops. During this transition period, it became clear to women that working conditions on the estates would not improve for them. The plantation managers' inability to adjust to free labour resulted in a significant withdrawal of female labourers after 1 August 1838.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World|
|Journal or Publication Title:||WOMENS HISTORY REVIEW|
|Publisher:||TRIANGLE JOURNALS LTD|
|Number of Pages:||27|
|Page Range:||pp. 381-407|
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