Understanding the Spatialities of Sexual Assault Against Indian Women in India
Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 2014
30 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2016 Last revised: 5 May 2016
Date Written: October 17, 2014
Both domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault against women (SAAW) in public spaces continue to be significant problems facing Indian society. Moreover, the link between DV and SAAW is also commonly misconstrued. Adding to this confusion is the way in which forms of violence against women (VAW) – battering, rape, molestation and sexual abuse – lacks spatial and contextual analysis. There was nationwide outrage over the Nirbhaya incident of 16 December 2012, which escalated the issue of VAWto the centre stage of political debates. Indeed, the Nirbhaya incident has intensified the need for understanding the spatialities of SAAW in India and propelled the Government of India to pass the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013. Using a questionnaire survey supplemented by open-ended interviews, the research aims to understand how social and patriarchal norms allow SAAW to persist. The research narratives reveal that the contours of DV, leading to sexual exploitation of women, often spill over to the public spaces, thereby restricting women’s mobility and creating fear of its (re)occurrence. Finally, I urge for reforms to tackle VAW while using Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as an asset for reform.
Keywords: sexual assault, domestic violence, dress code, mobility, prejudices, power, public space
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