Women, Nonviolence, and Civil Resistance in India

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Women at a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill [later Citizenship Amendment Act] and NRC in Kolkata, 22 December 2019.  Photo Credit:  Reuters.

One of the more remarkable features of the country-wide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) surely has to be the fact that women have taken the lead in signaling their dissent against the heavy-handedness of the Indian state and the increasing encroachment upon constitutional liberties.  Perhaps, in describing this as “remarkable”, I may be thought by some to be doing, if inadvertently, women a disservice in suggesting that they have not been prominent in previous civil disobedience movements. That is indubitably not the case:  they were highly visible in the demonstrations that took place all over the country in the wake of the brutal sexual assault against “Nirbhaya”, just as they were in 2004 when twelve women, the Mothers of Manipur, stripped themselves naked in public to highlight the sexual violation of a young girl and, more generally, the ongoing and systemic problem of sexual violence against women.

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