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

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Working with the State to Prevent Domestic Violence

Women Survivors of Violence: Genesis and Growth of a State Support System by Anjali Dave, New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2015; pp xii + 207, price not indicated.

This slim book on the genesis and growth of a state support system in the form of “special cells” for women that are embedded within the police system is welcome in an area that is poorly researched and written about. How does one work with and embed a gender sensitive ethos, approach and practice in a highly contentious system —the police system? The story of the special cells cannot be seen in isolation but in the ground that gave rise to it—the demands of the women’s movement that the law, courts and the police system take “cognizance of violence against women in marriages and families.”

Mainstreaming of gender in policies, programmes, state structures and institutions was central to the women’s movement in the 1970s and 1980s. It was a crowded field with many gender strands, big and small, mired in complex webs that needed to be understood and addressed. The role of academic institutions was envisaged through a three-pronged approach of research, teaching and action in the field. The start of the women’s studies centres in universities and colleges, and programmes such as Mahila Samakhya with a specific focus on women’s empowerment, were all part of this process.

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