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Communalism and Sexual Violence

Ahmedabad Since 1969

Megha Kumar

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Sexual violence has been a feature of several communal conflicts in India since Independence in 1947. The Partition riots, which saw the brutal victimization of thousands of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women, have so far dominated academic discussions of sexual violence during such conflicts. By examining three of the deadliest riots that occurred in Ahmedabad city, Gujarat, in 1969, 1985 and 2002, this book identifies the specific conditions motivating gendered violence against religious minorities. Providing in-depth, grassroots-level analysis, Megha Kumar moves away from existing academic approaches that focus exclusively on the role of Hindu nationalist ideology in inciting attacks on women. Rather, by examining the actual dynamics of each episode of conflict, this book shows gendered communal violence to be governed by the interaction between elite ideology, and the unique economic, social and political factors at work. Using government reports, Hindu nationalist publications and civil society commentaries, as well as interviews with activists, politicians and riot survivors, the book also identifies the conditions that have prevented sexual violence in riot contexts. Communalism and Sexual Violence in India will be valuable for academic researchers, human rights organizations, NGOs working with survivors of sexual violence, and those involved in community development and urban grassroots activism.

Megha Kumar

Megha Kumar is Deputy Director of Analysis at Oxford Analytica, the global analysis and advisory firm, where she has also been Senior Analyst for South and Southeast Asia. She holds a DPhil in Modern South Asian History from the University of Oxford and an MSt in South Asian Colonial History from the University of Oxford.