Exemption 2 in Article 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that a husband can rape his wife without any legal repercussions (Indian Kanoon, 2016). On this ground, the Indian Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by a marital rape survivor to criminalize marital rape on the grounds that the law cannot be changed for an individual (Sinha, 2015). Women’s voices, sexual and bodily autonomy have been marginalized from the scholarly debate as much as they have from the empirical. Contemporary literature fails to account for the voices of Indian women, and characterizes them as helpless and in need of protection. Despite colonial roots of the marital rape exemption (Pande, 2019), a post- colonial feminist response to the criminalization of marital rape in India is lacking. I conduct a post-colonial feminist critical discourse analysis of the issue of marital rape criminalization in India. Theoretically, I evaluate the double and discursive marginalization of resistant discourses sexual and bodily autonomy by powerful neo-colonial and patriarchal discourses. Empirically, I provide a more robust understanding of the resistance to marital rape criminalization despite overwhelming domestic and international pressure. Broadly, I argue that Indian Women are not inherently silent, submissive and subservient but rather their voices, have been doubly and discursively marginalized by patriarchy and colonialism alike. Though my argument is focused on a visible form of direct violence (Tickner, 1994), I hope to encourage discursive exploration of structural violence of Third World women’s voices in various oppressive genderscapes in the Global South.
Salwa Mansuri, London School of Economics, United Kingdom
About the Presenter(s)
Salwa Mansuri is a graduate candidate at the London School of Economics. She formerly completed her Bachelors Degree in Politics & International Relations from the University College London.
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