Women in Portuguese Goa 1500-1835, Tellicherry 2002

Women in Goa had their own age-old way of life embedded chiefly in the principles of Hinduism, and from the fourteenth century considerably influenced by the Islamic faith, When the Portuguese, hailing from the Iberian Peninsula, came face to face with the Indian society at the turn of the sixteenth century and established their settlements on firm grounds since 15.10 especially in Goa, they viewed Goan women as their newly-found consorts, substitutes for their spouses left in Portugal or even as those who could gratify their sexual needs temporarily without any commitment. Besides, the Portuguese mariners and soldiers who withstood the odds of the long voyages on the Portuguese caravels found in the exotic women of the East a great source for giving vent to their pent up energy despite their familiarity with the Christian morals and code of conduct. On the other hand, the Portuguese educated in Christian environs held women in great respect on account of the womanhood sanctified by the incarnation of Christ.

These differential aspects of the encounter between the Portuguese and the Goan women and especially the aspirations of some of those who wanted to live a committed life for the service of God and fellow-beings or those who were put in ignominious conditions prompted the Church under the Portuguese Padroado to set up institutions and invest money to look after their well-being. The present work is a pioneering attempt to study the condition of women in Portuguese Goa from 1510 to 1835 based on contemporary documents preserved in various repositories. A section of the book is set apart for highlighting the historical background till the arrival of the Portuguese and then to study the milieu from where the Portuguese came to India. The remaining sections deal in detail with the establishment of the institutions tinder the Portuguese and their activities. The epilogue points to the direction in which the activities initiated in yesteryears are in progress. This could be considered a welcome study of women in Portuguese Goa.