Women and Their Forgotten Roles in Slavery

In: Historical Events

Submitted By darnelmelville
Words 1513
Pages 7
Examine the role of women on the plantation
In the Caribbean enslaved women were valued for their productive roles in the plantation system. Some worked in the home as domestic slaves, looking after the home and children, in fact young enslaved females were expected to be companions of the slave master children. The females were the cooks, seam mistress, maids, cleaners and some were employed as wet nurses, breast feeding the children of her slave master. Not all domestic slaves had easier lives. Washer women, laundresses, water carriers as examples worked hard as the field laborers and suffered physical punishment if the work was not satisfactory. They also suffered sexual abuse by white males. They were also expected to work in the fields especially at harvest time. It is believed that enslaved women who worked in the planters’ households as domestics enjoyed a higher status than field women. There were three levels of field work. Heavy work was carried out by those aged between 16 and 50. Light work was carried out by enslaved between 12 and 16, the ill and pregnant women and new mothers. The final gang did the weeding and clearing fields of twigs and debris, and considered mostly of children under 12. Older trusted women would supervise these children. Weeding or “grass-picking” was considered one of the most laborious tasks required of first and second gangs women. With hoes, and sometimes just bare hands, women stooped in rows under the scorching sun to pick out the weeds growing among the young canes. Cane-holding and carrying manure to the fields were also important parts of the work of the first gang women. Both required strength and stamina, with driver’s whip being used to stimulate their productivity. Typically, the women worked a 12-hour day in these gangs with breaks for lunch and sometimes breakfast six days a week weeding, cane holing,…...

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