The Figure of the Abducted Woman: The Citizen as Sexed

Veena Das

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
The Figure of the Abducted Woman: The Citizen as Sexed

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Focusing on the figure of the abducted woman during the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan, this chapter analyzes not only the impact of communal violence on citizens as gendered but also the ways in which turmoil and horror allowed the nation-state to imagine and portray itself as the protector of a more rational, fundamentally purified, and by implication masculine, social order. It explores how hearsay and rumor tainted subsequent government fact-finding commissions and search-and-recovery operations, and highlights the ways in which elements of myth (dating back to epic depictions in the Ramayana and Mahabharata) and popular narrative or film circulated in an imaginary of social and sexual disorders that “created the conditions of possibility in which the state could be instituted as essentially a social contract between men charged with keeping male violence against women in abeyance”. It argues that the very demand for and mutual insistence on legislation intended to restore women to their families of origin sanctified a sexual contract as the counter-part of the social contract.

Keywords: India; Pakistan; abducted woman; communal violence; 1947 Partition; citizens; nation-state; social order; sexual contract; social contract

Chapter.  8573 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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