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
28 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018
Date Written: October 21, 2017
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
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