|Childcare in Colonial Bengal, India, as Gleaned from Women's Writings|
|Childcare in Colonial Bengal, India, as Gleaned from Women’s Writings
Information on childcare in Bengal during the British Raj is sketchy. According to memoirs and autobiographies, most married couples lived in an extended family situation where various relatives took care of both male and female children. Since the families preferred boys, they were well cared for and were educated. But the Bengali daughters, irrespective of their class or caste background, were married in their early infancy and they went to live with their husbands’ family.
Most of these little girls had little education. But in later life some of them, like Krishnobhabini Das, Kamini Roy, Swarna Kumari Debi and few others, became self-educated and wrote about their own experiences. Their writings, which included their memoirs and essays on women and children’s education, show their experiences as infants and girls and their view of ideal education for future generation of girls. Their discussion on girls’ education often included aspects of childcare. Some of them constantly compared the life of children in Europe and in Bengal to show how the childcare can be changed and improved. In this paper, I will be using the writings of several of these women, to show the following: a. what existed as child care or parents’ attitude towards their children, especially female children, b. children’s attitude towards their parents, especially fathers and father-in-laws and c. the relationship between brothers and sisters.
PART OF A PROPOSED PANEL, CHILDREN AND CHILDCARE IN GLOBAL COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE