This work attempts to break new ground by posing questions about women’s activism within the Hindu right, a crucial issue that has barely been addressed.
These essays look at gender within the framework of larger questions: the organizational history of the formation – still developing – we call the Hindu Right; its relationship to change in religious processes, economic developments, caste politics and constitutional crisis over the last few decades. The essays also pose difficult questions for the theory and practice of feminist politics which has tended to identify women’s political activism with emancipatory politics. Right-wing movements, it has been assumed, have – because of their emphasis on “tradition” – an inverse relationship to women’s politicization. Yet violently communal politics have pulled women into militant politics.
What do these and other questions and paradoxes mean for the theory and practice of “feminist” politics, and how do right-wing strategies and tactics compare with those developed by radical women’s groups?
URVASHI BUTALIA is a publisher, teacher and activist, involved in women’s publishing and research and activism on gender issues..
TANIKA SARKAR is a historian of modern India. She is author of several books and articles on issues relating to gender and history.Continue reading
The Sexual Violence and Impunity in South Asia research project (coordinated by Zubaan and supported by the International Development Research Centre) brings together, for the first time in the region, a vast body of knowledge on this important – yet silenced – subject. Six country volumes (one each on Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and two on India) comprising over fifty research papers and two book-length studies detail the histories of sexual violence and look at the systemic, institutional, societal, individual and community structures that work together to perpetuate impunity for perpetrators.
Breaching the Citadel showcases new and pathbreaking research on the structures that contribute towards creating and sustaining impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence. Focusing on medical protocols, the functioning of the law, the psycho-social making of impunity, the media., history and current politics, the book makes a valuable addition to work on Kashmir, the Northeast of India, Chhattisgarh and other regions of violence that are discussed in its sister publication, Fault Lines of History. This book is a must-read for students of women and gender studies, conflict, development, history, current politics and sexuality studies.
CONTRIBUTORS: Temsula Ao | Divya Arya | Urvashi Butalia | Uma Chakravarti | Rajashri Dasgupta | Padma Bhate-Deosthali | Neha Dixit | Bani Gill | Vrinda Grover | Suzette Jordan | Christine Marrewa Karwoski | Laxmi Murthy | Farah Naqvi | Kavita Panjabi | Jagadeesh Narayan Reddy | Sangeeta Rege | Meena Saraswathi Seshu | Navsharan Singh | Shobna SonparContinue reading
This essay traces the women’s movement in India in the mid-seventies and early eighties, when the issue of violence against women took prominence. Author Urvashi Butalia draws on numerous instances of violence, including among others the rape of Rameeza Bee in 1978, dowry-related violence, and the immolation of Roop Kanwar in 1987. She also looks at the women’s movement’s engagement during this time, which ranged from lobbying with the Law Commission to bring about changes to the rape law, to the efforts of Delhi-based groups like Mahila Dakshata Samiti and Stree Sangharsh against dowry.
In both the rape and dowry campaigns, as also in the campaign against sati, the primary target of women’s demands or grievances was the state, with the belief that the state had failed in its ‘duty’. The essay also traces how one kind of action flowed into another, giving rise to different challenges for the women’s movement.
Butalia also critically examines how inclusive or otherwise the women’s movement has been. She discusses how the broad category of ‘woman’, which many had assumed provided an overarching unifying identity, did not represent a homogeneous group whose broad identity held them together; they could even consent to strengthening the very structures of patriarchy that worked against them. The essay also dwells on how the rise of militant communalism and the polarization of identities along religious lines resulted in major changes and rethinking within the women’s movement in India.Continue reading
“This book is a must-read—for it gives a human face to a complex political problem. It should be read on both sides of the border. … Through the testimonies of ordinary and extraordinary women, it brings forth the complexities of a situation where the question of what is right and what is wrong is not as simple as leaders on both sides would have us believe.” — The Hindu “…leave no page unturned, no essay or sentence unread. Each word wounds, each story hurts, each incident of molestation and rape angers. And after you put it down, ask yourself this question: how can we even begin to imagine after what has been inflicted on them that ‘they’ would want to be part of ‘us’ ?” — Outlookindia.com
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