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Locating the Processes of Policy Change in the Context of Anti-Rape and Domestic Worker Mobilisations in India

Locating the Processes of Policy Change in the Context of Anti-Rape and Domestic Worker Mobilisations in India
This research seeks to address the question of when and why the state in India responds to women’s claims making by foregrounding the mobilizations of women’s groups on two issues: anti-rape laws and domestic work. In particular, it analyses the relationship between women’s claims making and laws and policies, especially focusing on the issues around which mobilizations take place, the processes and strategies of claims making by women’s groups, and the processes through which the changes in laws and policies occur. The research addresses these concerns at both a national level, as well as two subnational levels, Gujarat and Karnataka. It also compares the differences and similarities in mobilizations, structural configurations, actors and coalitions between the two issue areas, and across the levels (national and subnational).

The research draws on Mala Htun and Laura Weldon’s framework for analysing gender-egalitarian policy change as well as Nancy Fraser’s analysis of needs interpretation, multiple publics and representation. It is a qualitative research study, drawing on 62 interviews with key actors at both national and subnational levels, and an extensive resource of secondary material, which is particularly abundant on anti-rape mobilizations in India.

The report argues that state responses to women’s claims making provide a complex and variegated picture of a non-linear, slow, sporadic and contingent process of policy change, with iterations and reiterations by women’s groups met over a period of time by non-responses, intermittent gains, reversals and wars of attrition by the state. Domestic worker mobilizations have not had as long and consolidated a history as the anti-rape ones, which is reflected in the nature of state responses—with policy change and law reform in domestic work remaining sporadic and scattered, whereas there have been widespread reforms in anti-rape laws, albeit with as many reversals as gains. Apart from mobilizations by groups on issues, which have been a key factor for policy change, other factors such as champions in government, mass demonstrations and protests, the openness (or lack thereof) of the policy process, strength of networks are some of the other factors that determine when and why states respond to women’s claims making.

Shraddha Chigateri is Research Fellow, and Mubashira Zaidi and Anweshaa Ghosh are Research Analysts at the Institute of Social Studies Trust, India.

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Preliminary Matter

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Framework and Methodology

Chapter 3: Anti-Rape Mobilisations in India

Chapter 4: Domestic Worker Mobilisations in India

Chapter 5: Comparative Analysis

Chapter 6: Claiming against the Grain

Chapter 7: Conclusions

Appendices and References
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 21 Apr 2016
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    From: UNRISD