Nangeli: The Woman Who Challenged the Oppressive Breast Tax

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In the 19th-century Travancore kingdom, there were many oppressive policies that dictated what the lower classes could and could not do. One such was the mulakkaram, or breast tax. Avarna women weren’t allowed to cover their breasts in public unless they paid this tax (the sources I’ve found vary on whether the amount of the tax varied based on size/attractiveness of the breasts in question). One woman staged a harrowing protest that led to the end of the practice… and her life.

Warning: the link might be NSFW for pictures of naked breasts, and somewhat gory illustrations.

(photograph by Sunil Janah, via The Wire)

  • Dakota

    If she lived during the 19th century, shouldn’t she already be dead? I’m just wondering if she meets the requirements for Rejected Princess.

  • Jason Porath

    Sometimes I don’t do a full entry because the story is too short, or because I don’t think it’d quite for for some other reason. This is one of those times. Although who knows, I may change my mind in the future! :)