Gender, sovereignty and the rise of a sexual security regime in international law and postcolonial India


Kapur, Ratna. March 2014. "Gender, sovereignty and the rise of a sexual security regime in international law and postcolonial India." Melbourne Journal of International Law 14 (2): 1-29.

Author: Ratna Kapur


In this paper, I use the recent ‘Delhi rape’ case that received global attention in 2012 to trace how an appalling episode of violence against a woman is articulated within stable categories of gender and invites state intervention in the form of criminal justice, stringent sentencing and a strengthened sexual security regime. I argue that the stability of gender and gender categories based on the binary of male and female has been an integral feature of international law and has been maintained partly through an overwhelming focus on sexual violence against women by states as well as non-state actors. This focus relies on a statist approach to sovereignty, where advocacy is directed at the state for redress and protection, primarily in the form of carceral measures, which in turn translate into a tightening of the sexual security regime. By continuing to appeal to the state as a central custodian of women’s rights, feminist and human rights advocacy has failed to address the ways in which power is dispersed and does not operate in a top-down manner. It also operates in terms of domination, subjugation and subject constitution. I examine how a security discourse operates to regulate, discipline and manage gender in the context of three areas of international law: anti-trafficking interventions in international human rights law; wartime rape in international criminal law; and the ‘taming of gender’ in the context of the Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1820 on gender, peace and security.

Topics: Coloniality/Post-Coloniality, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Security, UN Security Council Resolutions on WPS, UNSCR 1325, UNSCR 1820, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against Women, Trafficking Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2014

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