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TARABAI SHINDE (1850–1910)

Tarabai Shinde was an activist. She was an associate of social activists Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule (q.v.) and was a member of their Satyashodak Samaj (Truth Finding Community). She was stung into activism by the Vijayalakshmi case. In 1881 in Surat, Vijayalakshmi, a young Brahmin widow, was convicted of killing her illegitimate child. On appeal her death sentence was changed to transportation for life. This so angered Tarabai that she wrote Stree Purush Tulana (A Comparison Between Men and Women, 1882) in Marathi, an early text engaging with the double standards separating the conduct of men and women. This hard-hitting polemic minced no words about the extent of men’s hypocrisy and willingness to blame the victims of their vices, women, and condemned the treatment of widows in bleak terms. But it came much before its time, and society largely ignored its message.
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