Violence Against Women During the Partition of India: Interpreting Women and Their Bodies in the Context of Ethnic Genocide

This paper focuses on the issue of violence against women during the communal riots that followed the Partition of India in 1947. The gender-specific reading of partition genocide facilitates a discussion on various forms of violence that targeted women and the symbolic meanings behind these acts. In addition, the paper explores the notion of nation as “mother” and its ideological implications for female citizens. Furthermore, the paper highlights the issue of abducted women, the recovery and rehabilitation programmes undertaken by the state to rescue them, and the working ideology behind the state’s actions. Arguably, the paper, taken in its entirety, allows for a more nuanced understanding of how in the name of religious/national pride, women’s bodies and sexuality were, and are, either regulated or exploited in patriarchal societies. It is through women that an ethnic community or nation-state demonstrates its sense of purity and honour. As a result, women turn into mute objects stripped of individual autonomy, of control over their bodies and lives.

Dey, Arunima
Universidad de Valladolid