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Cures and side effects: feminist reform and law in India

When: Wednesday, 23 August 2017 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017
Where: Braamfontein Campus East
WiSER Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
Start time:13:00


The Governing Intimacies Project at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER) will host this seminar by Professor Srimati Basu.

This talk considers the promise of governance feminism to be a primary remedy to address gender inequality and gender violence. There was extensive legal reform of marriage and gendered violence in 1980’s India in the wake of prominent feminist advocacy, including lawyer-free Family Courts, the criminal prosecution of domestic violence, rape law reform, and the promotion of alternate dispute resolution as a mode of better gendered access.

But as these reforms became law and worked themselves into culture, they were adapted in ways not imagined as part of their feminist scope – daughters sign away inheritance shares, Family Courts proffer reconciliation as optimal solution, rape law secures marriage by evacuating consent as a criterion; domestic violence claims help with better economic settlements while rendering violence invisible. Conflicts also emerged between feminist groups around problems of framing vulnerability, harm and protection.

In this talk, Basu will trace some legal trajectories and ethnographic examples of incorporating feminist reform within the Indian State in the areas of marriage, property and violence, laying out persistent tensions as well as fundamental contradictions around meanings of gender and justice.

Basu is Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Anthropology at the University of Kentucky, working on law, marriage, and violence.


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