A Feminist Critique of Patriarchy: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932)


  • Bharati Ray, University of Calcutta, India


Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain was one of the most brilliant thinkers of colonial India in the twentieth century. She addressed women, primarily Muslim women, and censured them for their degraded condition in society and loss of self-respect. She ascribed women’s subjection to men to the patriarchal social structure that gave hegemony of men over women. She also blamed men for their selfishness and condemned the prevalent social and religious customs, formulated by men, which perpetuated women’s dependence. If women were in a position to frame them, these unfair customs would certainly have been different. Her call was to women to wake up, to acquire fruitful education instead of useless ornaments and go in for gainful employment that would establish equality with men. Extremely brave and radical seen in the backdrop of her time, she was a champion of gender equality and a precursor of the women’s movement in South Asia in the modern period.


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Author Biography

Bharati Ray, University of Calcutta, India

Bharati Ray has served as Professor of History and as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Calcutta University, India. She was Founder-Director of Women’s Studies Research Centre at the University and Vice President, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India. A bilingual author, she has published fifteen books, including Women of India: Colonial and Post-Colonial Periods, Different Types of History and two volumes of articles published in the earliest women’s journal in Bengal, Bamabodhini Patrika. Her latest publication, Ekaal Shekaal, a story of five generations, received Bangla Academy Award, and has been translated into both Hindi and English. She was a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Empowerment of Women.  




How to Cite

Ray, University of Calcutta, India, B. (2013). A Feminist Critique of Patriarchy: Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain (1880-1932). Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 7(2), 60–81. Retrieved from https://journals.iium.edu.my/asiatic/index.php/ajell/article/view/318



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