Zurück zur Übersicht Donnerstag, 02.11.2017


16.15 Uhr

Insight and Blindness

Sexual Violence and Feminism in Contemporary India

Mary E John (Centre for Women's Development Studies, New Delhi)

This lecture will attempt to place the hypervisibility of issues of sexual violence in India in some critical perspective. It begins by discussing what is new about the new visibility of violence against women after the Delhi gang rape of 2012, compared to the prior long history of campaigns on the issue. Insights continue to unfold into the present, and in various forms. Critical views of the appropriation of the Delhi gang rape itself in cementing false images of stranger rape as the most common form of violence women must fear have gained ground. Furthermore, new researches have been able to provide a corrective to reveal a much more complex picture, when it comes to interpreting what the official crime data says as well as actual experiences on the ground. However, the presentation goes on to argue that there has also been blindness in the saturation of violence in public discourses on women’s issues. The now widely held perception that violence is the single most important problem responsible for women’s oppression and lack of freedom is casting a long shadow. The relevant contexts for thinking about sexual harassment and violence today are largely missing – the first of these is the role of education and higher educational institutions, and the second is that of work and employment. I argue that without these our discussions on women’s freedom and autonomy fall way short of their potential for bringing genuine transformation.

Mary E John is currently Senior Fellow at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi, India. She has been the Director of CWDS from 2006-2012 and before that was Deputy Director and Associate Professor at the Women’s Studies Programme in Jawaharlal Nehru University, from 2001-2006. Mary John has written widely in the fields of feminism and women’s studies. Her recent publications include Women’s Studies in India: A Reader (Penguin 2008), and the report Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions (UN Women, 2014). She was the co-Chair of the Task Force of the University Grants Commission that brought out the Saksham Report investigating issues of Sexual Harassment on Indian Campuses (UGC 2014).


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