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

Review of Women's StudiesSubscribe to Review of Women's Studies

Runaway Marriages

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. Legal opinion in some quarters refuses to acknowledge the irreversibility of the change brought about by the revolt against or defiance of age-old norms. This refusal is revealed in the negative opinions, especially of women who run away to marry out of their caste. The underlying beliefs in "equality of all" and "humanism", which seem to give a lot of these women the courage to break free of caste and marry the men of their choice, are not given any credence. This paper, based on fieldwork in Punjab, argues that such views are based less on fact and more on prejudice - the "seen-unseen" - letting a silent revolution go unnoticed.

Marriage, Language and Time

If marriage is posited as a temporal rupture, what is the nature of its "before" and "after"? Focusing the ethnographic gaze on this temporal shift in the course of fieldwork in a Delhi neighbourhood, this paper argues that marriage becomes an ontological site for the doing of life itself. Further, the time of after marriage is marked by the work of nibhaana in a multiplicity of enactments that go beyond English equivalents such as the observance of or abiding by norms. The centrality of nibhaana also suggests that the ethicisation of any relationship of two people would still be based on a grammar of dutiful observance, sacrifice, categorisations of fidelity, labour and openness to a life of contingent events. Although linked with resignation and a generalised negativity, in its complex demands, nibhaana calls for new terms of engagement across feminist writings to envision non-essentialist recordings of what being married entails.

Protecting Women or Endangering the Emigration Process

The paper discusses the case of emigrant women domestic workers from Kerala, a state which has had a long history of migration of workers in this segment. It draws attention to the critical failure of the social science scholarship to address the question of poor women migrants. It also provides an overview of state policy on migration and underlines its complicity in generating regulatory gaps. The paper engages with the gendering of citizenship and sovereignty through a comparison of the state policy on migrant women workers and the experience of three segments of this workforce - emigrant nurses, domestic workers and outmigrant fish processing workers. It then considers the question of agency in the context of women workers who are thrust into the position of breadwinners for their families and, finally, the question of responsible state intervention.

Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

Marriage and Migration

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. This paper explores issues of agency, marital experience and citizenship in the context of a specific form of women's marriage migration that is taking place in both national and transnational contexts, much of this phenomenon spurred by skewed sex ratios in Asian countries. The resulting bride shortages in female deficit regions and countries have led to the "import" of women from areas with better sex ratios. The paper explores this "import" of brides from West Bengal and Bangladesh, and unravels the differences in the marital experience of cross-national and cross-regional Bengali brides. Focusing on issues of citizenship and religion, and how they affect these women and their children from such marriages, it calls for the provision of meaningful support structures for such brides, the first step towards which would be to acknowledge the growing volume of female deficit-induced cross-region marriages.

Matchmakers and Intermediation

Based on data from a research project on marriage conducted between 2007 and 2009 in Kolkata by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University this paper seeks to explore the dichotomy between "arranged" and "love" marriage. It moves away from the register of "choice" and "consent" and focuses on the question of intermediation. Social and technological changes have altered existing institutions of intermediation and created new ones, even as changes in matchmaking have both responded and contributed to the development of the "arranged love marriage" system. The seemingly dramatic transformation in forms and institutions of intermediation has nevertheless kept intact or even reinforced both caste and class configurations within the marriage market as well as gender stereotypes in the choice of bride/groom. There are major elements of continuity, but these are neither seamless nor uncontested.

Addressing Domestic Violence within Healthcare Settings

Women experiencing violence most often decide to seek legal action only after the violence has escalated and that too without having any documentary evidence. The Dilaasa crisis centres at two public hospitals in Mumbai since 2001 have been established out of the recognition that the public health system is an important site for the implementation of anti-domestic violence intervention programmes. The crisis centres therefore straddle both discourses of public health and gender. The paper offers critical insights into the model and its impact in terms of its ability to reach out to women who are undergoing abuse and offer them multiple services in one setting.

State Policy and the Twelfth Plan through a Gender Lens

The rapidly changing urban scenario seems to have important implications for gendering governance in Kerala. Thus, besides the different histories mediated by caste and community, the spatial location of women leaders in local governance appears to be of central importance in shaping their agency. This article which is based on the research about women leaders in local governance in Kerala in 2005-10 explores the extent to which success in local governance allowed these women entry into politics and gave them a greater presence within the public life. Generally it is seen that successful women leaders are often the bearers of a specific form of power that has been historically associated with the deployment of sentiment and affect, and ideal femininity, and that such power is understood to be crucial to local governance as well. However, an entirely different picture emerged from this study on women leaders of urban governance. Besides gentle power, successful women attribute their success equally to knowledge - of official norms and procedures.

Gender Responsive Budgeting in India: What Has Gone Wrong?

The manner in which the Indian initiative on gender responsive budgeting has panned out appears to be a classic case of putting the cart before the horse. This article analyses the two prime strategies adopted by the Government of India for institutionalising GRB, namely, the "Gender Budget Statement" and Gender Budgeting Cells to highlight what has gone wrong, and what needs to be fixed. The authors also draw on experiences from other countries, to argue that GRB in India needs a completely different rhythm if it has to translate into better outcomes for the women of our country. With the formulation of the Twelfth Plan under way, the moment is opportune to push for groundbreaking changes in the policy discourse on GRB.

Ladlis and Lakshmis: Financial Incentive Schemes for the Girl Child

A desk review of 15 girl child promotion schemes relying on conditional cash transfers across the states and discussions with a few non-governmental organisations, implementing officials and beneficiaries show up some of the shortcomings. The eligibility criteria, conditionalities and registration procedures need to be simplified. Despite the pumping in of huge financial resources, there is no field-level monitoring to study the impact of such schemes nor is there a grievance redressal mechanism. An in-depth analysis would help in assessing whether in the long run conditional cash transfers could lead to a significant change in the parental attitude towards daughters.

Beyond Feminine Public Altruism

The rapidly changing urban scenario seems to have important implications for gendering governance in Kerala. Thus, besides the different histories mediated by caste and community, the spatial location of women leaders in local governance appears to be of central importance in shaping their agency. This article which is based on the research about women leaders in local governance in Kerala in 2005-10 explores the extent to which success in local governance allowed these women entry into politics and gave them a greater presence within the public life. Generally it is seen that successful women leaders are often the bearers of a specific form of power that has been historically associated with the deployment of sentiment and affect, and ideal femininity, and that such power is understood to be crucial to local governance as well. However, an entirely different picture emerged from this study on women leaders of urban governance. Besides gentle power, successful women attribute their success equally to knowledge - of official norms and procedures.

Gendering the Twelfth Plan: A Feminist Perspective

A gendered analysis of the Approach Paper to the Twelfth Five-Year Plan suggests that women must be recognised as growth agents in India's political economy across all sectors. The gendering of public policy must move into macroeconomic space. While "inclusion" is listed as an objective, there is lack of clarity on the mechanisms for including the excluded, and for measuring and monitoring inclusiveness over the plan period. From a gender point of view, the generation of livelihoods and employment should be the central driving force for growth, and the resources generated should support social policies that universalise education, health and social security.

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