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The first four sets of e-Essays focused on Indian women’s movements, sexual violence, domestic space and kinship and religion and conflict. The movement against the Indian state in Kashmir, or the battle between Maoists and the state in Chhattisgarh are two examples of how governments often become suspicious of, and turn against their own citizens. Often, citizens—in these cases, women—are caught in complex webs of impunity created by state power (as in the impunity assumed by the army under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act) or by non-state actors (as in the impunity violent power gives to militants and underground factions in both states). If Kashmir and Chhattisgarh are examples of states of ‘war’, the ways in which social exclusion and caste marginalization work provide shameful examples of the ongoing ‘warlike’ situation faced by Dalit women, against whom violence, especially sexual violence, has been ‘naturalized’, with state protection often standing squarely behind the (savarna) perpetrators. This week’s selection of essays—one a photo essay—sheds light on state crimes and impunity, and how women’s lives are impacted by these confrontations with state power.
1) ‘Kidnapping, Abduction, and Forced Incarceration‘ by Aloysius Irudayam S J, Jayshree P Mangubhai & Joel G Lee from Dalit Women Speak Out: Caste, Class and Gender Violence in India, 2011.
This essay sees the authors examine various methods of kidnapping/abduction and forced incarceration—on the basis of a study of 47 narratives—and then analyze the implications of these forms of violence on the fundamental rights of Dalit women.
Examining these relationships with violence, the authors conclude that non-state actors employ the method of forced incarceration to mete out punishment in the form of sexual and physical assault against Dalit women who do not conform to caste-class-gender hierarchies. The essay also notes that state actors, primarily the police, engage in their own forms of forced incarceration by the filing of false cases or the illegal detention of Dalit women. The physical isolation and restriction from dominant caste male-dominated public spaces re-emphasizes and compounds the caste-class-gender-based social exclusion and vulnerability to violence that Dalit women face. 13pp.
Aloysius Irudayam S. J. is currently the Program Director for Advocacy Research and Human Rights Education at the Institute of Development Education, Action and Studies (IDEAS), located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
Jayshree Mangubhai is a Senior Human Rights Adviser with the Pacific Community (SPC), a regional organisation that provides technical and scientific advice to Pacific Island governments, based in Fiji.
Joel G Lee is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Williams College, Massachusetts, USA. He teaches and conducts research on caste and religion in South Asia.
2. ‘Nobody’s Children, Owners of Nothing: Sexual Violence and Impunity in Chhattisgarh‘ by Guneet Ahuja and Parijata Bhardwaj from Fault Lines of History: The India Papers, Vol II, 2016
Parijata Bhardwaj is a criminal lawyer at the Bombay High Court and a founding member of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group. In Bastar, she has worked with Adivasis towards the implementation of their fundamental rights.
3. ‘Finding Face: Images of Women from the Kashmir Valley‘ by Sheba Chhachhi from Speaking Peace: Women’s Voices from Kashmir, 2002
FREE IN AUGUST, WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY OTHER ESSAY:
‘The Everyday and the Exceptional: Sexual Violence and Impunity in Our Times (Introduction)‘ by Uma Chakravarti from Fault Lines of History: The India Papers II, 2016
Dr. Uma Chakravarti is a feminist historian who taught at Miranda House, Delhi University. She writes on Buddhism, early Indian history, the 19th century and on contemporary issues.
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