Governance Feminism's Others: Sex Workers and India's Rape Law Reforms (Introduction)

Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field, eds. Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouche, Hila Shamir, University of Minnesota Press, Forthcoming

King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2018-11

28 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

See all articles by Prabha Kotiswaran

Prabha Kotiswaran

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law; A Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute

Date Written: October 21, 2017

Abstract

In Governance Feminism: An Introduction (University of Minnesota Press 2018), I used the concept of governance feminism (GF) to analyse one of the most significant new Indian legislations to address violence against women (VAW), the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (CLA) passed by the Indian Parliament in the wake of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pande in 2012. I argued that Indian feminism has entered a governance mode and is today a crucial part of the law-making process even if significant feminist demands of the state have not materialised. However, GF is not limited to tracking feminist influence in the corridors of state power; state power extends well beyond the juridical into the discursive or governmental realm. How then do feminists relate to or reconfigure feminism given the shift in the state’s political functions from government to governance whereby the state uses both its juridical and discursive powers to govern its political subjects? I consider this question by examining the Indian legal regimes on sex work and trafficking, because these regimes took birth in the crucible of feminist governmentality and have been cultivated by GFeminists ever since. Moreover, since the 1990s, sex workers have been subjects of the state’s governmental power exercised through myriad public health initiatives. By comparing the politics of criminal law reform which informed the strategies of feminists (on rape, sex work and trafficking) versus that of sex workers’ groups (on sex work), I argue that it is only by studying GF’s ‘others’, namely, sex workers that we can fully grasp the political possibilities and futures of GF.

Keywords: India, trafficking, sex work, rape, Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

Suggested Citation

Kotiswaran, Prabha, Governance Feminism's Others: Sex Workers and India's Rape Law Reforms (Introduction) (October 21, 2017). Governance Feminism: Notes from the Field, eds. Janet Halley, Prabha Kotiswaran, Rachel Rebouche, Hila Shamir, University of Minnesota Press, Forthcoming; King's College London Law School Research Paper No. 2018-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3075186 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3075186

Prabha Kotiswaran (Contact Author)

King's College London – The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
Strand
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

A Dickson Poon Transnational Law Institute ( email )

London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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