Shifting feminist activisms: Indian feminism and critical events of rape

Aisha K. Gill CBE, G Gangoli, M. Rew

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Since the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey in 2012 India has generated an enormous amount of national and international media attention and a reputation for sexual violence, pointing to the country’s “endemic problem” (Washington Post, 2012). The rape led to widespread protests, by students and wider society, particularly in Delhi. Notwithstanding these recent events, rape has long been, in fact, a catalyst for feminist and social movement responses in India. This paper will focus on three cases of ‘stranger rape’ that have been valourized as pivotal moments for feminist activism on sexual violence within the country. Reformulating the concept of the critical event as sites of potential ambivalence for Indian feminists the paper explores the manner in which feminist activism on rape in India has shifted since the 1970s. Through the eyes of various feminist actors, from various age groups, the paper examines whether the ideological, social and policy consequences of these events can been perceived as empowering for feminist activism in India. Ultimately, these transformations highlight some of the strengths, problems and dilemmas of Indian feminist political action in the 21st century, particularly faced with the gender challenges of a rapidly globalising neo-liberal Indian political economy.
Original languageEnglish
Journal Journal of International Women's Studies
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Rape
  • India
  • Feminist activism
  • Critical events

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