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maroon women capturedFirst and foremost maroonage was a man’s thing as men were more able to undergo the hardships of maroonage. On the other hand, maroons were more prone to getting stuck or lagging behind with women who might bear children and weaken the chances for survival as a group.

Femininity, on the other hand, was also considered as a physical and mental weakness and led to the conclusion that women slaves would not adapt to the wilderness and other hardships associated with maroonage. However, in spite of all this, female maroonage did exist and the reasons why women slaves marooned were many. According to records from Grand maroons, the main reasons remained that they wanted to escape from their masters’ control and also did not want to be associated with maroon bands.

Very often, women slaves also wanted to meet relatives who had already fled. It has been said that these escapes were planned in advance after having made arrangements to meet with a relative.

It is also true that maroon female slaves did not maroon on their own. Maroons would often attack estates to obtain food, clothing, arms, and also sexual partners. However, women slaves were not always willing to follow maroon men.

Another reason accounting for female maroonage was the bad treatment that their owners inflicted on them. There was an account of a female slave, Louison, who stated that she had marooned because of ill treatment by her owner. She claimed that she had run away many times but had stayed in the vicinity of the estate and had been caught each time and the intensity of her punishment increased proportionally. Therefore as a last resort, she had resolved to escape forever.

Records of Monique, a Mozambican maroon slave, are quite revealing. After being captured, she stated that she had not become a maroon voluntarily. She was kidnapped by an armed maroon named Guinga while she was picking vegetables with her child. Guinga forced her to accompany him to the woods and join the maroon band. The latter killed the child and took her as a partner. However, after some time, another maroon from the same gang killed Guinga and made Monique his partner and she bore his child.

It was also a common feature among maroons to practise infanticide. It followed that babies proved to be a burden on the band that was always on the move trying to escape maroon detachments.

Another important practice by maroons was that women belonging to bands did not accompany men when they went on raids. They stayed back and received food and clothing that were stolen. It was a usual occurrence to punish maroon slaves upon their capture and that was often death. However women maroons received different punishments depending upon their testimonies.

After a testimony given by a maroon female slave named Rose, she was spared the death penalty as the court concluded that she had not escaped on her own. Rose had been kidnapped by a band of 15 maroons while she was chasing monkeys from the fields of her master, Jacques Coinard.

Information on maroons from the ar­chives have definitely proved their im­portance becau­se of their reliability. Oral history on maroonage, associated with Le Morne, is very appealing and thrilling and is worth paying special attention to.