ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Every Woman's Right to Say 'No'

This article is an attempt to understand the interrelated triad of love, masculinity and sexuality in the context of the recent "love crime" episode at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The naturalising of violence and masculinised love is not "exceptional" anymore, and the woman's autonomy and right to say "no" have been subverted by their fear for safety.

On 31 July 2013, a student at the School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), brutally attacked a woman classmate with an intent to murder. He subsequently killed himself publicly by drinking poison. This incident, as everyone knows by now, happened in broad daylight, in-between classes, within the space of a classroom. It appears that there were classmates and others who might have witnessed this brutal act, possibly partially. Needless to say it has thrown the University community into a state of shock, making many of us furious and sad, and, at least some young undergraduate women students, fearful. What has worsened the situation unfortunately is that the media is rife with unsubstantiated reports, adding to the already heightened state of tension.

Clearly there are very urgent and grave issues facing JNU at the moment. Even as I write, discussions are under way amongst different groups – students, faculty, non-teaching staff and administration – on campus. Yet, like many others who have responded to this incident have observed, JNU is not an exceptional space. Like other parts of the city, and country, it is a microcosm, one that reflects – in relation to the issue of violence against women – all shades and forms of patriarchal excess, including brutality.

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