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This post was edited by Sita_Agarwal at 2012-5-7 07:40|
In 1857, British rule in India was challenged when Indian sepoy troops of the British Indian Army began a year-long insurrection against the British. To the British, the most shocking aspect of the events in India was the massacre of white women and children by Indian men. There was extensive coverage in the press and illustrated journals, which stimulated calls for revenge..
In newspaper accounts, parliamentary debates and visual images, the severity of the conﬂict came to be embodied by the fate of British women and the deﬁlement of their bodies and their homes. Paton’s famous painting In Memoriam was dedicated by the artist to the Christian heroism of “British Ladies in India during the Mutiny of 1857.” In 1858, the first version of the painting, which depicted Indian sepoy troops bursting through the door, was exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art in London.
Ideologically, the Rebellion dramatically increased racial antagonisms between Britons and Indians. On the British side, this was in large part due to the savage attack on British women and children, who were allegedly being raped and murdered by fanatic soldiers in alarming numbers. The British had to have a heroic fight against depraved sepoys intent on rape and murder of innocent and helpless English women and children.
The depth of public reaction to the murders was due in large part to the lurid nature of the published accounts. Though papers frequently argued that the ‘vile tortures’ practised upon British women and children should "be remembered, not told," all of them did in fact ‘tell’ of rape and torture in graphic detail. Letters and telegraphs flooded the papers with accounts of women being raped in front of their children before being killed, of matted blood, gory remains of children’s limbs, and of the suffocation of living children among their dead mothers when the victims were thrown into a well.
Such graphic tales of rape and murder inflamed public sentiments calling for vengeance on a massive scale. The Illustrated London News voiced its indignation in tandem with most other national, provincial, and local papers when it claimed that "every British heart, from the highest to the humblest of the land, glows with honest wrath, and demands justice, prompt and unsparing, on the bloodyminded instruments of the Rebellion."