Sexual Violence in India: The History of Indian Women’s Resistance

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Student Presentation

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Faculty Sponsor

Reshmi Mukherjee


This research seeks to recontextualize the understanding of the ways women resist sexual violence and agitate for change of socio-cultural and political practices in India. Modern Indian women’s social movements were revitalized in the 1970s with the Mathura rape case in Maharastra. The historical context of this impactful activism is framed through analysis of four pivotal rape cases – Mathura, Bhanwari Devi, Imrana and “Nirbhaya,” otherwise known as the Delhi gang rape case. The assertive and innovative resistance of women includes such tactics as sit-down protests, marches, rallies, candle light vigils, street theatre, presentations, ad campaigns, freeze mobs, and social media. The assertive actions of Indian women continue to generate public awareness, spawn alterations of national laws, and advance the examination of patriarchal and hegemonic male centric social systems. Based upon the scholarship of Radha Kumar, Mangala Subramaniam, Debolina Dutta, Oishik Sircar, Himika Bhattacharya and Deepti Misri, this research aims to reframe the understanding of the ways women resisted sexual violence within recent history.

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