Women's Rights in India: A Bibliography


Curriculum and Gender Question : The Indian Experience, Saroj Pandey ( Senior lecturer, DTEE, NCERT, New Delhi) Social Action, Vol. 46, Jan-Mar.1996, p.p. 340-347

This article explores the development of the curriculum in formal educational organisations from the point of view of gender equality, tracing back the historical antecedents,. It comments on the pre-independence and post independence status of women's education. It discusses recommendations made by various committees formed for women's education after independence. While appreciating the absence of visible curriculum differentiation, it states that gender inequality still persists in a social form. The article emphasizes that there is a need for sincere and sustained efforts to improve status of women in India.


Mishra, Sweta , Women and 73 rd Constitutional Amendment Act: A Critical Appraisal , Social Action, Vol.44, 16-30, (1997)

This paper begins by briefing about the marginal position occupied by the indian woman in the society and also in the political process due to socio-economic constraints. It outlines the evolution of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) against this backdtrop. It then gives a brief account of the position of women in the PRIs before the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act. Finally, it examines the probable role of women in the context of the 73 rd Amendment Act. It examines whether women will be able to exercise political power through this system, what hurdles are there on their way, and finally how they can overcome these?

Mrs. Sweta Mishra is a Research Scholar, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Delhi.

Gender equality through reservation in decision-making Bodies, By Shashi. S. Narayana. Social Action 1998, Pg 147

This article discusses the need for political empowerment of women through reservation in its decision making bodies like parliament, and state legislature in the same line as at ‘Panchayat’ (village) level in India. The current economic and socio-political maladies along with increasing violence against women and children are attributed to the failure of male oriented polity. Representation of women in higher bodies of political authority has been considered a prerequisite for the success of democracy at the grass-root level. However the need for accountability and sense of commitment on the part of the elected women representatives is stressed. This requires a higher degree of awareness among women regarding health, literacy, gender and other relevant social, economic and political issues.

Law and Gender Inequality : The Politics of Women's Rights in India., Flavia Agnes, Oxford University Press, 1999,

This book explores the issue of gender and law reform with reference to the politics and history on India. It also explores the strategies, which could safeguard the of women's rights in a country like India, which has a typical social, cultural and political background. The book is divided in four parts. First part contains five chapters and speaks about Pre-colonial and colonial Legal Structures. Second part comprises of three chapters, and explores the post-independence developments. Third part of the book which consists of two chapters explains the Developments in the personal laws of non-muslim minorities. Fourt and last part of this book contains the analysis of the current trends of the debate on the Uniform Civil Code.

Off the Beaten Track: Rethinking Gender Justice for Indian Women by Madhu Kishwar OUP, New Delhi: 1999

Madhu Kishwar is an influential participant in the women's rights and human rights movements since the 1970s and is the founding editor of Manushi - a journal about women and society.

This volume is a collection of some of Madhu Kishwar's best and most controversial essays concerning topics central to women's issues in India today: the role of marriage payments and dowry, unwanted daughters, denial of inheritance and land rights to women, love, sex and marriage, sexual harassment, identities, beauty contests etc. Many of these offer a critical appraisal of Madhu Kishwar's activism and engagement. The essays are an attempt to grapple with one of the most serious challenges to women in India: Why is it that inspite of all the high profile attention on women's issues many remain unresolved? Most of the work thus far has resulted only through symbolic actions such as passing of laws, which very often are inappropriate and not implemented. In most cases where laws are misused it contributes to increasing the vulnerability of women's lives. The volume also deals with Madhu Kishwar's moving away of 'ism-driven' politics and orthodox feminist thinking. The essays reject statist interventions in social reform and appeal to people's consciences to bring about any meaningful changes in the position of women.

" Gender Justice and The Supreme Court" by Indira Jaising in Supreme but not Infallible: Essays in Honour of the Supreme Court of India B.N. Kirpal, Ashok H. Desai, Gopal Subramaniam, Rajeev Dhavan and Raju Ramachandran (eds.) OUP, New Delhi 2000 (pages 29, words 199).

Indira Jaising is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India. She has been a fellow of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies London and is Secretary of 'Lawyers Collective' which deals with socio legal issues of public interest.

This essay traces the evolution of gender justice in the Supreme. Before taking up judicial decisions concerning issues that involve women's rights, the author draws attention to the composition of the judiciary and its starkly unrepresentative character. Through an analysis of cases dealing with property rights to women to cases of violence against women, the essay addresses the problem of formal equality and the evolution of equality jurisprudence in the Indian Supreme Court where sameness and similarity form the criteria for classification. One of the recent cases (Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan) where the Supreme Court has considered provisions in CEDAW to address sexual harassment in the workplace is also discussed. While some recent decisions do indicate a positive step towards gender justice the unevenness in this development is attributed to a greater emphasis on criminal law as opposed to civil law, leading to a neglect of women's economic rights. Finally, the essay points to emerging issues concerning validity of personal laws, women's representation etc. which will engage the courts and it is felt that an increasing number of women in the judiciary will be able to perceive women as autonomous decision makers and active participants in public life.

Identifying Gender Backward Districts using selected Indicators, Preet Rustagi, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 48, November 25 — December 1, 2000, pp. 4276-4286

The article identifies gender backward districts among fifteen major Indian States — Andhra Pradesh , Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal — based on 13 gender sensitive indicaters — such as demographic, educational, health related, socio-cultural and economic levels of development. The assesses the relative levels of backwardness or development, ranking based exercise on individual indicators. The study limits itself mostly on secondary data from 1991 census, 370 districts have been taken into consideration. The study indicates female to male ratio (FMR) as a demographic variable. Female literacy serves as basic indicator of educational status. The health related variable is mortality rate. The data source used for the study are : the census of India, 1991, mortality estimates from Rajan and Mohanchandran (1998) and UNFPA's calculated data on fertility and female age at marriage. The paper undertakes detailed state and district wise discussion on each of the selected indicators under separate heads. Through the study mekes no attampt to look at transition overtime and only focus on rural areas, however its significance lies on its methodology that reinforces two points — one disaggregated analysis and second significance of looking at different aspects of gender development. The findings of the study concludes that no state or district exhibits a uniform pattern of backwardness or development in terms of gender sensitive indicators.

Gender gap in Literacy in Uttar Pradesh : Questions for Decentralised Educational Planning, Lori Mcdougall, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 19, May 6-12, 2000, pp. 1649

The paper on gender differences in literacy attainment in Uttar Pradesh, 1951-91 reveals significant regional variations in female achievement and the gender gap. A case study of changing spatial patterns in the literacy gender gap within Uttar Pradesh illustrates national statistics on regional gender and caste inequities. The paper raises questions for further study about the ability of decentralized planning to promote educational equality and its threats to community cohesion. The study is mainly based on female and male literacy rates as reported by government of India census data collected in 1971, 1981, and 1991. It analyses total female literacy rates per state and district, comprising both rural and urban. Uttar Pradesh has high female literacy and gender gap and is a big state of 140 million people. The study covers status of literacy in northern and eastern parts of the state and influence of religion, urbanization and income on literacy rate and emphasis of history, social relations and politics on the female literacy level and gender gap in state. The study illustrates female literacy rate in both national and state maps and comparative study in graphs. The study is supported by relevant statistics.

Representation for women, should Feminists Support Quotas, Meena Dhanda, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXV, No. 33, August 12, 2000, pp. 2969-2976

The author in this paper a defence of gender quotas in legislative bodies and debates on potential political and socio-cultural consequences of the institution of a gender quotas in the Indian parliament by a constitutional amendment and provides justification for the use of a gender quota in legislative bodies. Author offers consequential argument in section I of the paper. In section II she emphasizes on concept of the public sphere and idea of acting in solidarity with women presupposed in the debate and in section III, she elaborates on her perspective on identitarian justification of gender quotas and compares her justification with support for gender quotas from the argument for ‘a politics of presence’ in section IV. In a concluding section of the paper she derives an answer to : Should feminists support the women's bill for an amendment to the Indian constitution that has provided 33% reservation for women in the Indian parliament and state legislature?

Equality of Opportunities vs Equality of Results, Improving Women's Reservation Bill, Madhu Kishwar, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 47, November 18, 2000, pp. 4151-4156

In response to Meena Dhanda's article, representation of women should Feminist support Quotas, the author expresses her view point on the same. She argues on the improvements she has proposed to the original Women's Reservation Bill and reasons out its shortcomings. She further refers to impact caste and gender has upon women politicians and their insensitivity to women's concerns. The author states the salient features of the Alternative Bill and presents its advantages. The article presents statistical data analyzing gender advantage in Lok Sabha elections since 1952 and statistic on comparative performance of men and women candidates of recognized parties in Lok Sabha elections.

Chatterji, Angana , Women in Search of Human Equality Social Action, Vol.40, 46-56, (1990)

This paper attempts to situate women in the present context of national development, to assess their condition since the changes in their status and study the link between economic progress and the class to which the woman belongs , for studies have indicated that there is a close connection between the two. In order to analyse it, the paper first identifies the problems in the path of women's equality. After an overview of awareness of their situation among various classes of women, the paper ends with a view of the future and the possible solutions.

Angana Chatterji is Research Assistant in the Department of Research, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi.

Sarkar, Lotika, National Specialised Agencies and women's equality , Law Commission of India (CWDS), 1998

The report examines the role of the Law Commission of India (LCI), assesses its contribution to women's equality and identifies ways of improving that contribution. Specialised agencies like the LCI were recommended by the UN Commission on the Status of Women to play a multiple role in eliminating women's inequality. The first chapter of the book deals with the genesis of the LCI and the second chapter with its composition, status and functioning. The report, cextly deals with women specifi creports of the LCI which includes topics like, married wimen's property, mrape,etc. the latter part of the same chapter deals with family law related topics like Gindu Marriage Act. Finally , the report concludes with catious recommendations like as per Indian laws a mother is continued to be treated as comng onl after the father as a natural grardian of a minor child is against the recommendations of the UN Commission on

Feminist Theory

The History of Doing, An illustrated Account of Movements for Women's Rights and Feminism in India, 1800-1990, Radha Kumar, pp. 197.

The book is about the use of feminist movement in India. It notes the historical context of the movement and gives an account on the struggle of the radical thickness and social reformist, who first raised issues of women's fundamental rights. It gives an account of women's participation in freedom struggle and the emergence of the feminist movement as a process. The book reviews contemporary feminist movement and analysis the issues caused on dowry deaths, rape case and practice of sati. It present selective survey of major campaigns, organizations and figures defining issues that were raised and fright, photographs, old and new documents, excepts from letters, books and informal writings, case history of social activist makes good an interesting reading. It is a brief , interpretative account on history of women's movement in India, both pre and post independence period.

Gender and Politics in India Edited by Nivedita Menon, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1999.

This volume presents an overview of feminist theory and politics in India. The introductory chapter provides an outline of the issues involved and the importance in explaining the politics of gender in India. The essays focus on different aspects of feminism in India, and debates on various issues like environment and gender, the impact of technological change on women work force, interpreting constitutional guarantee of ‘right’ to equality with gender perspective; different women's movement and the challenges encountered; and sexuality and gender. The section on environment and gender discusses Vandana Shiva's concept of ‘Eco-feminism’. The ‘work’ section highlights structural adjustment and its impact on women, whereas the ‘law’ section suggests ‘reconceptualization’ of equality in view of women's subordination. The problem of a contemporary theory of ‘gender’ in the perspective of present socio-cultural change in Indian society has been highlighted.

Girl child

Girl Child in Indian Society Mita Bhadra (ed.) Rawat Publications New Delhi: 1999 (words 200)

Mita Bhadra is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, University of North Bengal, Darjeeling. Her area of research includes industrial sociology, gender studies and social change.

The main focus of this collection of seven articles by a variety of authors is on the prevailing inequalities, discrimination against the girl child and her gender marginalisation. It presents information on the social status of the girl child in India including child labour and child prostitution. The volume also discusses the various laws enacted to secure the rights of the girl child in India. The first article deals with declining sex ratio, under nourishment, child marriage, female foeticide and the SAARC Plan of Action and the Government of India's initiative to improve the status of girl children. The second paper deals with gender stereo-typing, prejudices, girl child abuses etc. The third and fourth papers deal with the exploration of situations under which the girl child is living. The fifth article touches upon issues of child marriage, which is rooted in traditionality and illiteracy, and its impacts. The sixth article focuses on child labour as and its impact on health. The seventh paper deals with various laws with reference to child prostitution as well as the living conditions of victims of such exploitation. The volume promises to be valuable to social researchers as well as for planners and policy makers.

Kanya: Exploitation of Little Angels by Dr. (Mrs) V. Mohini Giri, Gyan Publishing House, New Delhi: 1999

Dr. (Mrs) V. Mohini Giri is former Chairperson of the National Commission for Women and has been spearheading the cause of sex workers and other marginalised sections groups among women.

This volume on children prostitution deals with almost all relevant issues from prevention of child prostitution, to rescue and rehabilitation, awareness and social mobilisation, health care, housing and civic amenities, economic empowerment, legal reform, law enforcement trafficking and other human rights issues. The volume also informs of relevant national and international legal provisions including the 1949 Convention on the Suppression of Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (Trafficking Convention) and CEDAW for the protection of the girl child from prostitution. It provides valuable insights into the system of exploitation as most of the instances cited are from Dr. Giri's experience in the course of her work in the field of women's human rights. The volume also makes valuable recommendations for improving the condition of child prostitutes, many of whom come from the most disadvantaged sections of Indian society. The recommendations lay great emphasis on the active involvement of civil society groups and local level administrative authorities as it recognises the import of public support for the effective implementation of any such social legislation.

Sreenath Lalitha, Victimisation of girl- child in the home , Journal of the Indian Law Institute, Vol.38, pg-101-107, 1996

This article is a case comment on the case of Biswanath Das Vs Maya Das, which acquires significance as it highlights the deficiencies and inadequacies that exist in the present legal system, statutory laws, judiciary and Bar- and the Society. The Indian society is still plagued by victimisation of girl child through performance of child marriage despite the forthcoming Beijing Summit focussing on women's right and the affirmation in the UN Declaration of 1989 to which India is a signatory. There is an urgent need for law reform to protect the status and rights of child brides in India. The author points out that the male-chauvinist traditions of patriarchal societies still hold sway over the minds of the judges in courts.

Bhadra Mita, Girl Child in Indian Society , Rawat Publications,1999

This volume aims at analysing the situation under which Indian girl children are living and identifying the sexual inequalities within the household and society at large. Emphasis is given to the girl child who should be given her rightful share of human dignity and opportunity- a concept which has found and appropriate place in the Plan of Action for implementing the World Declaration on Survival Protection and Development of Children in 1990s . The papers that have been compiled in this volume , range from those analysing the status of girl child in India to her socialisation process, gender stereotyping, discrimination changing age at marriage, girl child labour , child prostitution, and ameliorative legislations for her status enhancement in family, society and changing trends in these areas.

Kishwar Madhu , Where Daughters are Unwanted , Manushi, no-86, Jan-Feb,1995, pg-15-22

The article emphasises the magnitude of the problem of sex determination tests (SDT) in India which has resulted in sex selective abortions of thousands of female foetuses . The state of Maharashtra passed the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse ) Act of 1988 to ban SDT. But inspite of stringent provisions , due to lack of proper implementation, this law has failed to curb the problem. There are many advocates of SDT, and they believe it will help control the population growth. Scarcity of women does not imply that their life will get better- it is a myth. The author decries the fact that often women themselves prefer a male child as shown from various studies due to social conditioning. The real solution lies in making families realise the value of their daughters, otherwise these SDT will never end.

Health and Well Being

Na Shariram Nadhi, My Body is Mine, by Sabala and Kranti, edited by Mira Sadgopal, 2 nd Edition 1996.

The writers of the book have documented a process of self realization through self-examination of ones body. It potrays a process of self-help training experience in women's health and deals with issues that adversely affect women's health such as class caste and gender oppression in family and society, medicalisation of health, coercive and women targeting policies of the government and social stereo typing. It compiles the experience of eighteen women, in a ten months (Between February 1993 and November 1994) training on self-Help Training in Women's Health based in Hyderabad. The book contents issues related to gender sensitization and health politics of health and population, body politics and beyond fertility awareness and sexuality, gyn-ecological disorders and healing child-bearing support, the Experience documented here are those of dalit, tribal and otherwise marginalized women made out of deliberate choice. Each chapter in the book gives objectives and the mythology used in the training. It also records the successes and failures of the training processes, yet is a friendly and practical guide for seeking alternatives. The form of the book is simple and illustrative. The illustrations in book reflects the experience and insight of the participants.

Mental health from a gender perspective, Edited by Bhargavi.V.Davar, New Delhi, Sage pub, 2001, pp. 427.

This book is the compilation of a number of papers presented at a seminar on gender and mental health in 1995, and is an effort to understand the politics of the mental health discoursed from a gender perspective. The book is divided into four parts: part 1 reviews the issues involving women and mental health in India- clinical psychology; the social and cultural ambience; the contributions and the limitations of the interested parties. Part 2 deals with mental health issues related to body, reproduction and sexuality. Part 3 covers sexual violence, child abuse and mental health whereas the part four deals with inter-phase between gender and social institutions like hospital, court and media.

Labour and Employment

Women and Sexual Exploitation: Harassment at Work by Rehana Sikri, Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi: 1999 (149 words)

The work, taking cognisance of the increasing number of women in the total workforce of countries of the world and the consequent emerging patterns of social interaction views the work place as a new domain of conflict in the 'running battle of the sexes'. As the work presents a comprehensive profile of the working force in India drawing upon data from decennial Censuses, National Sample Surveys and small scale socio-economic surveys, it includes women's occupational profile as well as the social mores and family values that determine behavioral patterns specifically in the workplace. These survey results are analyzed for a further interpretation of the components of sexual harassment and male-female relationship in the workplace. Working women's search for identity is also addressed in the context of the traditional pattern of gender and sexual exploitation. The book brings out the distinctive and alarming aspects of gender confrontation and its sociological significance.

Kishwar, Madhu, Sex Harassment and Slander as weapons of subjugation , Manushi, no.62, jan-feb-92, pg-2-15

In this paper the author focuses on the more insidious and routine forms of sexual harassment women have to deal with when they step into the world to earn a livelihood or take part in social, political and educational activities. The segment of society chosen is university students and teachers from middle class. Real life experiences have been recounted which show how men use aggressive sexual encounters to maintain dominance and control and how and why women are forced to suffer such behaviour . Steps towards protecting women from sexual harassment are suggested, to bring a meaningful change in women's currently powerless and vulnerable position. Also, sexual slander is used as a weapon to keep women in a perpetual state of fear, the fear of losing izzat (honour) in a way that can affect a woman's very chance of survival and result in loss of family, job and being a social outcaste.

Exploitation of Domestic Women Workers : Case Studies from Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu, Social Action, Vol.43, April-June 1993, p.p. 235-241

This paper is an offshoot of a study conducted on the problems of women in the unorganised domestic sectors in the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu The purpose of the study is to portray the exploitation of domestic women workers. It emphasizes that the structure of the family affects exploitation directly as well as indirectly while stay with the employer results in direct exploitation. It suggests that economic support and skill training to the women of the non-familial structure, may enable them to be independent and self reliant.

Women Making a Meaningful Choice — Technology and New Economic Order,Nirmala Banerjee & Swasti Mitter, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXIII, No. 51, December 19, 1998, pp. 3247-3256

The paper address two contemporary issues, one related to Indian working women's response to technological changes and globalisation; and second relates to the impact of these changes on women's work in India. The reference used in the article published secondary material and documents of the grassroots experiences of NGO's that are currently engaged in women workers in the formal and informal sectors. The documented material is of the selected NGO's from eight Asian countries between 1994 and 1996 that United Nations University Institute for New Technologies (UNU / INTECH, Maastricht, the Netherlands) had commissioned. The paper focuses exclusively on India with emphasis on demands, concerns and aspirations of Indian working women with respect to technological changes as reflected in those commissioned reports. The study examines women of diverse background and their co-relation with changing technologies in the past and present, in different regions and industries of the country. The paper further analyses the position of Indian Women's movement in context with women's traditional role in the society.

Employment of Women and reproductive hazards in Work Places , By Neeru Sehgal, research scholar( Delhi university), in Journal India Law Institute, Vol. 29, (1987), pp. 201-215.

Treatise examines exposure hazards of toxic substances on fertile, pregnant mothers, discriminatory, exclusionary practices against women by employers to avoid legal, moral accountability. Probes instances of transfers to low paid jobs, self inflicted sterilization, law amendments introduced in U.S, disparate treatment on women, safety measures, foetal protection, medical screening. It cites instances and court judgments. It examines Indian perspective of the problem in developing countries and also examines Indian factories act in disallowing women from doing hazardous jobs, timings prescribed for women, hazards in industries of tobacco, cotton, agro based etc. Probes studies of India council of medical research on expectant women exposed to toxic substances in world's worst industrial disaster Bhopal gas tragedy involving a multinational. Examines employers responsibilities, government role, duty to protect the interests of women under article 39(e) of the Indian constitution, need to have regulatory framework for multinational's seeking to operate industries in India.

Marginalisation of Women

Widows in India: Social Neglect and Public Action by Martha Alter Chen (ed.) Sage Publications, New Delhi: 1998

Martha Alter Chen is Development Advisor, Harvard Institute for International Development and Lecturer, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the USA. A specialist on gender and poverty, she has worked on South Asia and is author of A Quiet Revolution: Women in Transition in Rural Bangladesh and Coping with Seasonality and Drought.

This volume aimed at a better understanding of the status and condition of widows as a marginalised group of Indian society is a result a workshop and a conference at Bangalore in 1994. The first was an informal gathering of 25 widows and 10 activists while the conference included 65 activists, scholars and policy makers who had experience on issues relating to widows. After these events, a network of widows and activists was established and a two year action plan launched in six states to ensure rights and dignity to widows.

The papers in this volume, most of which were presented at the conference are grouped into six broad sections. Three papers explore the ideological construction of widowhood in India including patriarchal constructs, the practice of levirate and property rights under customary and modern statutory law. Two papers deal with the demographics of widowhood with reference to mortality and aging. The other four themes include property rights, social security, employment and social identity based on case studies of actual practice and individual histories. The author also provides a framework for analysis of widowhood in India, which includes concepts such as Patrilocality, Patrilineal Inheritence, Remarriage Practices, Employment Restrictions, Maintenance and Social Isolation.

Marriage and Family life

Enslaved Daughters, Sudhir Chandra, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998;

This monograph discusses the Rakhamabai's case, the first case filed in 1884 for restitution of conjugal rights and in detail. It also discusses the repercussions of the case on the society. Rakhamabai wedded Dadaji at an age at which she was incapable to give a wise consent. She refused to be obligated to a marriage solemnized when she was only eleven. During the eleven years of their unconsummated marriage she had grown to develop a strong dislike and argued that she was not bound to go to Dadaji. Dadaji moved the Bombay High court for the restitution of his conjugal rights, which resulted in strengthening her determination to resist the autocracy of indigenous social authority and colonial legal dispensation.

Status of Women and Social change, By B. Sivaramayya in Journal of Indian law institute, Vol. 25, 1983, pp. 270.

The author looks at ancient shastric Hindu law in matters of rights of women; sati practices, the involvement of the British in enacting laws to protect women's social status. It examines views, interpretations of courts, legislature in matters of bigamy, conjugal rights, inheritance, divorce, maintenance under Hindu marriage act and Muslim personal laws. It also looks at the Muslim community views. It examines the provisions of criminal procedure code and the Indian penal code in relation to above topics. This article cites instances, circumstances of litigation and court interpretations and views. In this article an attempt is made by the author to critically examine the social status of women by way of legislation, judicial interpretations and processes.

Chowdhary Prem , Widow Remarriage in Haryana , Manushi, no.82, May-June 1994, pg-12-18

The article explores the apparently progressive practice of widow remarriage in the state of Haryana in India which has several possible repressive aspects, including forcible remarriage into mismatched and undesirable alliances, polygamy and being deprived of inheritance rights. Widow remarriage in its levirate form is popular among the landowning classes as it emanates out of the desire to retain landed property within the family. The author shows how the state by its own legislative measures contributes not only to subverting the more positive facets of widow remarriage but it also becomes an accomplice in the subversion of the potentially beneficial effects of its laws, making them ineffective and infructuous.


Dutt, Anuradha, In the name of the mother , Manushi, no.79, pg-23-26, nov-dec,1993

This article brings out the importance of education rights for prostitutes children and a judgement being passed to that effect by the Supreme Court of India in January 1993, granting permission for the admission of prostitutes children into schools without having to state the father's name, which was the customary practice in school admission procedures. A case study of a prostitute house in Delhi shows the hardships that these women face. Extreme deprivation seems to be the cause of prostitution in India rather than sexual and psychological aberrations. In conclusion , the role of an organisation called Bhartiya Patita Uddhar Sabha is emphasised , whose members are mostly prostitutes themselves and which has made some headway in bettering the lot of prostitutes and their children.

Race and Gender Issues

Dalit women's search for identity, Dr.Sukla Deb Kanungo (Reader, Dept. of Social Work, Vishwa-Bharati, Sriniketan, West Bengal, Social Action, Vol.43, Oct.Dec.1993, p.p. 481-494

This papers discusses the struggle of dalit women for existence and to protect themselves against the hostile social environment. While discussing the hazards dalit women are facing, it also comments upon the handicaps of dalit women like lack of education and poor economic condition. It expresses the view that the movements dealing with the position of dalit women need to develop strategies to sustain the process initiated by such movements to ensure that they sustain their positive impact.

Religion and Culture

Sheth, Surabhi D, Women's Sexuality: A Portrayal from Ancient Indian Literature Manushi, no.71,jul-aug 92, pg-14-23

The patriarchal system in India, evolved over centuries has created durable patterns of attitudes and behavior which make for the wide spread practice of treating women as property. Women were made to appear inferior to men. A woman earns respect if she performs her assigned role of wife, mother or daughter. Hinduism is probably the only religion where women are both feared and worshipped as goddesses. But ironically, in reality women often get ill-treated. Various examples from the ancient Indian literature are quoted which bring out these aspects . Women are subject to legal and social disabilities as per their various strata and different stage of life cycle. As a result those few oft-cited traditional examples describing human relationship between men and women can only be viewed as exceptions proving the rule. Therefore, besides feminism one must also pay heed to how an evolving ideology of the Hindu family resulted in such a stringent patriarchy in India.

South Asians and the Dowry Problem, Edited by Werner Menski, New Delhi, vistaar Publishers.

In this compilation of articles by authors from different fields- lawyers, economists, sociologists an attempt has been made to unravel the causes of increasing dowry related violence in India.

The issue of dowry is treated not only as a matter of criminal or property law but also as a complex phenomenon with historical and socio-economic roots. The issues discussed include economic and sociological explanations, geographical distributions of dowry deaths, legal strategies to curb dowry and its effective implementation, and the increase in the incidence of dowry related violence among Sikhs and Gujratis settled in Britain. In conclusion, a practical strategy to eradicate dowry and bride burning has been formulated on the same line as was adopted at the 1 st International conference on dowry and bride burning in India in 1995 and revised and ratified at the 2nd and 3 rd conference in 1996 and 1997.

Masoodi. Saqlain.G and Dhar Lalita , Women,s rights in Christianity: Some reflections on divorce laws , Cochin University Law Review, Vol.22, pg 16-44, 1998

This paper primarily examines Christian matrimonial law albeit Christian wife's right to claim divorce under section 10 of the Indian Divorce Act,1869 and her place within Christianity. As per this s.10, a christian wife has to prove adultery with some other ground like cruelty for divorce. The Indian law regulating Christian marriage is squarely rooted in Common law. The authors then analyse the nature of marriage at Common Law and evaluate if the marriage law regulating Indian Christian is deficient thus lagging behind the Common law, in any of its aspects. Lastly, the paper attempts to ascertain the attitude of the Indian courts vis a vis the rights of women albeit wife to be deduced from the decided cases involving matrimonial issues and in particular which cover Indian Divorce Act, 1869.

Ghadially.R, "All for Izzat", Manushi, no.66, sept-oct'91, pg-17-20

This article throws light on the practice of female circumcision among Bohra Muslims (especially in India). "Khatna"(circumcision) of female is practiced only by this sect. The justification for Khatna is mainly to curb female sexuality and that she must safeguard the izzat (honour) of the family. There are various forms of circumcision. The most common problem faced by girls after Khatna is difficulty in discharging urine. The author described in detail the profile of a woman who does the circumcision. They are mostly uneducated, lack formal first aid or nursing training, they use unsterilized instruments, and do it as a religious duty. The girl's circumcision is an absolute guarded sectet and unlike male circumsicion is not announced or celebrated.. The origin of this practice is traced to Africa where the Ismailis movement started from and came to Gujrat in India and converted the Hindus to their fold.

Reproductive rights

Raju.K.N.M. and Bhat.T.N Gender issues in the choice and adoption of family planning methods , Indian journal of gender studies, vol.3-4, 57-70, (96-97)

The research notes are prepared on the basis of sampling of woman done in the Mandya district in Karnataka to draw one's attention to the gender inequalities in the officially sponsored family planning programme. The result of the survey showed that there were more female acceptors than against male acceptors of the above programme. The sex composition of living children showed that people prefer male to female child. And this was the determining factor for acceptance of the family planning methods in the sample. The author concludes that the programme should motivate men as much as they motivate women to go for family planning to make it effective in the true sense.

K.N.M. Raju is associate professor at the population research center, institute for social and economic change, nagarbhavip. bangalore 560 072 and T.N. Bhat is technical assistant at the institute.

Law, Woman and Population in India, By Berendrapal Singh Sehgal (LL.M), in Indian Socio-legal Journal, Vol-12, (86-89), pp. 88.

Article components are introduction, women and marriage, women and family planning, education, employment and conclusion. They provide birth rates, population statistics, land area-population comparisons, women population census figures. Cites various laws of India relating to marriageable ages. It examines practices in various religions their impact on population. Discuses legal aspects of abortion, government policies, provisions of Indian penal code pertaining miscarriages, concealing birth, abortion statistics, sterilization and tubectomy statistics. Author explores education influence on population statistically. Author analyses interaction of employment and population growth, legislations like factories act, ESIC act, maternity benefit act, thereby studying their impact on population growth. Article ends with author's conclusions on role duties of government, polygamy, abortion, need to amend existing laws confirming with principles embodied in universal declaration of human rights, declaration of elimination discrimination against women.

Lal, Ajeet, Abortion under the Indian Penal Code and the medical termination of pregnancy act- a comparative view ,Indian social legal journal, vol.32-34, 93-102, (1996-1998)

The article explains the meaning of abortion and miscarriage .The abortion laws have been liberalised to keep pace with the changing needs of the society. Various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Indian Medical termination of pregnancy act(MRTP),1971, provide for the legal grounds for miscarriage.When , where and by whom the pregnancy can be terminated is also discussed. The author suggests that the Act should provide the medical practitioner with guidelines to decide what substantial risk is to terminate pregnancy and although the main objective of the Act is to maintain the health of the woman ,‘mental health’ has not been defined in the Act.

The author is a research scholar, faculty of law , Jammu University, Jammu.

Violence against Women

Violence against Women: New Movements and New Theories in India By Gail Omvedt, Kali for Women, New Delhi 1997 (Third Impression) (42 pages - 192 words)

While the women's organisations in India have opposed individual acts of violence against women ranging from amniocentesis, female infanticide, rape, dowry deaths and sati , there has been little attention given to the theoretical understanding of the causes of violence. The essay therefore discusses some recent Indian feminist theorising of violence by activist leaders closely involved in movements of women as peasants, forest dwellers and members of the lower castes. The author, while discussing violence in traditional Marxist and Radical Feminist theories delves into the emerging theories of violence in India. The essay focuses on Sharad Patil's theory, a combination of Marxism and Phule- Ambedkarism, where violence against women is understood as a reflection of the relations of production of a class-caste society; Sharad Joshi's theory influenced by radical feminism, where violence is central to the process of capital accumulation and women's power is the central force of liberation; and eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva's theory, influenced by Gandhian thought where violence seen as inherent in 'western cultures' and women as protectors of nature and the traditional community. The essay apart from bringing out the complexities involved also provides an insightful critique of each of the theories.

Violence against Women by Ram Ahuja, Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi: 1998.

Ram Ahuja retired as Professor of Sociology from the University of Rajasthan in 1988 after completing a teaching career of more than 3 decades. He is on the visiting faculty of various national institutions and police academies and has authored numerous research articles and books.

The book while noting the rise in violence against women attempts to answer questions regarding the nature of and causes for violence against women, if any theoretical analysis could be offered explaining the etiology of violence and the effectiveness of women's groups in tackling issues of sexual exploitation and harassment of women. These and other issues are critically examined from sociological perspective. It also deals with issue of trauma faced by victims of violence as they seek acceptance in a hostile environment. The book also offers suggestions regarding treatment of such issues through preventive measures, redefining patriarchal norms, developing support for victims within the family and through women's organisations etc. thus providing a balance between practical and theoretical issues.

Chahar Surendra , Offence of rape: The marital exception , Indian social legal journal, vol.32-34.Pg-35-42,(1996-1998)

The article explains the offence of rape as per S.375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) , its significance and the objective of the law to protect and underaged wife from premature sexual intercourse by her husband. The new provision of the IPC, S.376A makes sexual intercourse with one's own wife, who is living separately due to law or custom, punishable but it needs to be amended in such a way that after there is a withdrawl of consent to sexual intercourse by the wife to the husband then such act after the withdrawl should be made punishable. Illustrations have also been given where the husband is not justified in having sexual intrcourse against the will of the wife. The article suggests that the legislature should remove from the code the marital exceptioon to rape as it cannot be said to represent the true position of the wife in the marriage.

The author is a reader in law ,M.D. University, Rohtak. Presently Asst. Legal Adviser, Ministry of Law & justice, New Delhi.

Rape: A human rights versus a patriarchal interpretation by Latika Sarkar, Indian journal of gender studies V I (1) 1994, Pg 69. .

The article makes an attempt to redefine rape not only as a sexual offence but also as an act of violence, which goes against the fundamental human rights laid down in the universal declaration of human rights. The treatment meted out to the rape victim and the onus on her to prove her lack of consent is all the reflection of patriarchal criminal justice system. The change in Indian rape law following the recommendations of law commission of India to change the substantive law, as well as law of evidence and procedural law, has been highlighted. A large number of custodial rape cases and subsequent acquittals of the guilty also cause concern. Insensitivity and apathy of the government results in delay and injustice and in most cases very little punishment. The issue of marital rape and legal sanction of cohabitation with a minor wife are discussed. U.N documents, even CEDAW has been criticised for making no mention of eradication of all forms of gender-based violence. A change in the U.N declaration is suggested to include not only the public sphere but also the primary male bastion-The family, so far considered the private sphere and outside the purview of Human Rights.

Women and Empowerment

Empowerment of women, K.Shanthi 1998 (Ed.), Anmol Publications pvt.ltd. (Professor, Dept. of Econometrics & Co-ordinator, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Madras, Chennai)

This book consists of 13 papers, which narrate about the existing empowerment strategies and their shortcomings. Six papers out of them are based on case studies and the other seven explain the need for social legal and cultural empowerment of women and the existing options for the same. The book is comprised of six sections. They speak about the General, Political, Legal, Social, Economic and Cultural empowerment of women. In these various papers, the issues like reservation for women starting from Panchayats to Parliament, role of education in social empowerment of women, employment as an important tool for empowerment, role of governmental and nongovernmental organizations in women development, need for conscientization of men and women on the importance of women development and women empowerment.

Economic Empowerment through State Benevolence , Shobita Rajagopal and Kanchan Mathur, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 33, August 12, 2000, pp. 2908-2910

The article analyses the Rajasthan State Policy on Women announced by the government of Rajasthan (GOR) on March 8, 1994. It is the fourth policy statements issued by different state government led by the Maharashtra State Policy on women announced in 1994. The writers argues that the Rajasthan State Policy on women is a significant more considering the states feudal culture and patriarchal structures that determine low status of women. The article states objectives of the policy as enunciated in chapter II and analyses salient features of the policy. The writers considers that though the policy by definition is a statement of intent and therefore can not be question. Yet it needs to be analysed and reviewed in the context of several initiatives for women's development in Rajasthan.

Joshi, Sneha and Pushpanadham K., Empowering women for educational management , University news,vol 39,no.;4, January 22,2001 pg-1-4

This paper outlines the social and psychological dilemas faced by women in today's changing society.. It enumerates some of the international and domestic efforts made to empower women and examines the question of women's access to leadership positions in education. The need for women to be educational managers is explored and measures have been considered that could be undertaken to enrol more and more women into leader position in education.

Khandai, Hemanta, The role of university in empowering women , University news. Vol.39(6), February 5 ,2001 pg-9-11

The Programme of Action 1992, provides parameters for the empowerment of women and the University Grants Commission (UGC) has framed its policy on Higher Education recognising Extension as the third dimension of the Institution of Higher Education in addition to "Teaching" and "Research". Now the new focus is on women's studies centres started by the universities to have a better understanding of women's contribution to social process. The paper concludes by giving various aspects on which the university can work on and how for the empowerment of women.

Women and Urbanisation

Rural women and Modernization, Mita Majumdar ( Asst. Program Officer in the program for agriculture education, Dept. of Training, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi.)

Social Action, Vol.41, 1991, p.p. 367-381

This paper discusses at length the effect of modernization on the rural women. It states that the declining status of the rural woman is not because of technology alone. It is the result of a combination of forces in the form of literacy, caste and class barrier, low self-perception of women and the lackadaisical attitude of the Govt. towards women's issues.

It is also emphasized that to increase the participation of women in agricultural development it is not enough to review the policy matters alone. They will be effective only when there will be social change in favour of women, particularly, those from the most marginalized classes.

Urbanisation, coping mechanisms and slum women's status., Walter Fernandes. ( Dept. of Research, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi and Editor, Social Action.), Social Action, Vol.41, 1991, p.p. 382-398

This paper is based on a study, women's status in the Delhi Bastis. The consequences of migration on rural poor women who join the urban informal sector. It is affirmed that migration alone does not add to the woman's status and may even result in her downword mobility. It is emphasized that an educational approach aimed at the organisation and attitudinal change is an essential condition for status change.

Mahila Mandals in Gender Politics , Maitreyi Das, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXXV, No. 50, December 9, 2000, pp. 4391-4398

The article studies the status of Mahila Mandals, the traditional local women's organization, during India's struggle for independence, in early 20 th century. It analyses the tremendous potentials of these women's groups to address women's strategic gender needs and whether they are traditional associations that consolidates gender inequalities or simply formed to enable women to successfully enter into public domain. It briefly covers the history of the mandals and explains the insignificant role mandals have played in women's movement in India. The author illustrates ethnologies of successful mahila mandals in the rural areas of Thane district in Maharashtra state, during 1993-96 and presents archetypal characteristics of the Mahila Mandals.

Women's Rights in General

Women's Movement in State of Haryana : Problems and challenges Sunita Pathania (Director, Women's Studies Research Centre, Kurukshetra University, Haryana) Social Action, Vol.45, 1996, p.p. 163-177

This paper intends to evaluate and locate the women's movement in Haryana in the context of the parameters in which women's movement has developed in the country as a whole, keeping in view the goals and directions which have been set for it during the eighties and nineties. An attempt has also be made here to analyze the reasons on account of which the movement has failed to take off in Haryana. It emphasizes that initiatives at grass root level should be preferred in place of launching a state wide movement. It explains that why a sustained women's movement through large scale mobilization on the sensitive issue of the dignity of women has failed to develop in Haryana is an important question that deserves serious attention and close analysis.

Women's Rights at the Workplace (Part I) & (Part II ), Asha Bajpai ( Lecturer- law, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai), Lawyer's Collective, Vol.12, 10 th October 1997, p.p.17-18 & November 1997, p.p.13-16

The first part of the article expresses the views of the author, emerged after a symposium held in Bombay to discuss the effects of the post 1990 economic liberalization era on the women workers in organised and unorganized sectors and to recommend thereby a legal strategy for empowerment of women comparing the situation in India and U.K., it explains that due to the job losses in organised sector there will be further pressure on the unorganized sector. It states the areas of concern and recommendations for legal interventions, emerged from the various presentations and discussions at the symposium, and condensed from the Indian and UK experiences. Out of them a policy for employment of women has been briefly discussed in this part of the article.

In the second part of the article, other areas of concern have been discussed. Concluding the examination of issues affecting women workers with the advent of globalization, it emphasizes a need for strict implementation of labour laws with particular emphasis on the unorganized workforce.

What was changed for women and Girls in India Since 1995, the NGO Country Report on Beijing Plus 5 from the Indian Women's Movement,Compiled by : The Task Force on Women 2000 : India

The Report prepared compiles the contribution of the Indian Women's Movement to the Beijing Plus, review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It review and report process initiated and co-ordinated by the National care Group and Task Force set up by NGO women in June 1999 and undertaken by women's NGOs and Institutions Across India. The review attempts to cover the post-Beijing situations and policy initiatives taken by the Indian Government and efforts and achievements of women's movements. It measures gains and gaps of five-year process and attempts to assess not only government policies and preferences, but carefully evaluate performance of NGOs.

The report covers the insights of women from tribal, rural and slum communities and academicians, researchers and University students and view of national provincial women's organizations.

The report analyses each identified women's issue word wide. The report explains the status of the issue as presented in different conventions and campaigns and possible actions that need to be taken in future.

Woman's rights ; Ali Baug, Tara, Sati, Women's Status and Religious Fundamentalism , SOCIAL ACTION, Vol.38, 78-83, (1988)

This commentary attempts to trace the origin of the ‘sati practice’ in the continent and especially in India. It enumerates the ill treatment meted out to the woman by the man under the influence of the patriarchal system and the use of fear psychosis to tame the woman. This period is compared to the ancient period during which the woman was revered in the same way as the Goddess earth was as a giver of life.The commentary concludes that the nation should utilise it's funds for strengthing the nation rather than for religious fundamentalism.

Tara Ali Baug is President SOS Children's Villages of India and author of several books on women including Women of India (1959) and India's Woman Power (1975).

Venkatesan, Jayshree, Women's Multiple Roles and Coping Strategies; Myths and Realities , Indian Journal of gender Studies, Vol3-4,39-56,(96-97)

This paper studies how women mostly from the lower income group meet the competing demands of work and family, especially child care, through formal or informal facilities available to them. A survey conducted of the urban and rural areas of the Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu , India brings out in details the problems faced by the woman who is the head of the household in managing her work and her child. The paper tries to remove some of the misconceptions associated with the life of , such women, like formal assistance being there for her child care ,whereas the reality is that the woman mostly has to make do with whatever informal assistance is available for the same.

The author is a project associate, project ACCESS, M.S.Swaminathan research foundation, 3 rd cross street, taramani institutional area , madras 600 113

Ram, Ranjini, Divorced women's right to custody and guardianship of children , Cochin University Law Review, Vol.22, pg. 392-408,1998

This paper explains the evolution and concept of custody and guardianship under the Hindu Law. It points out that the laws continue to be discriminatory and relegates the position of the mother to a secondary status. Divorce of parents proves to be very traumatic on their children. Whatever maybe the differences between the parents, responsibilities towards children cannot be avoided. Determination of custody, child support and alimony have not yet indicated a compliance with non-discriminatory policies. Comparison with Western laws shows that the focus in the west is concentrated on a blend of the welfare and tenderness concept towards furthering the rights of the child and also give an equitable status to the hitherto weak mother. Finally, some of the Indian Law Commissions recommendations are provided which aim at removing discrimination of children, at the same time keeping in mind the welfare of the children.