Citizenship degraded: Indian women in a modern state and a pre-modern society | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
janvier 2003
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ISBN / Resource ID: 

One of the greatest barriers to achieving full citizenship rights for women is culture. If development organisations are to help advance women's rights and full citizenship then they must abandon explanations on the basis of ?culture? that ignore gender-based discrimination, and overcome their anxieties about appearing neo-colonial. To do this, effective partnerships between northern-based development institutions and southern-based social movements are necessary since social movements can be a key means of transforming culture. Three Indian legal cases are presented to demonstrate how, despite elements of formal equality, Indian law and its Constitution do not recognise real equality. The Shah Bano (1985) case is described, where Indian law was overridden by the Prime Minister to uphold discriminatory Muslim personal law on divorce. Another case is that of Bhanwari Devi, who was raped as a form of community punishment for her feminist activism, and this was later sanctioned by formal legal systems. The court's argument that the rape could not have taken place was based on assumed cultural norms that older men do not commit rape. The final case is of a young couple who were murdered by their relatives, with the approval and participation of the community, because they were of different castes. These cases emphasise the need for strengthening north-south collaboration within development in order to support social movements that campaign for women's citizenship rights.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

K. Sinha


Our Vision

Our vision is a just world without poverty. We want a world where people are valued and treated equally, enjoy their rights as full citizens, and can influence decisions affecting their lives.

Our Purpose

Our purpose is to help create lasting solutions to the injustice of poverty. We are part of a global movement for change, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just, and free from poverty.

Fournisseur de données

BRIDGE is a research and information programme located within IDS Knowledge Services. We are part of a global movement whose vision is a world where gender equality, dignity and social justice prevail, where poverty is eliminated and where human rights – including women’s rights - are realised.

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