ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Public violence and private lives: Women in a violent city


Gooptu Nandini - University of Oxford, Oxford Department of International Development, Oxford, United Kingdom


21- Panel Title: Violence against women in South Asian countries


 Gurgaon in the Delhi National Capital Region has grown at a dizzying pace into a major techno-modern corporate financial and cyber centre in the past few decades. At the same time, a real estate boom and the influx of capital have spawned land mafias, armed gangs, extortion rackets, murder and kidnap. The city has gained notoriety for its aggressive misogynistic hyper-masculinity and violence towards women, posing a threat to women’s safety. However, the danger of violence is often exaggerated much beyond reality in public discourse. Women do not necessarily experience direct public physical or sexual violence regularly, but the fear of lack of safety and potential violence have profoundly adverse consequences for women. They are forced to exercise self-restrictions on their own conduct, spatial mobility and daily activities, while their families and male protectors subject them to surveillance and coercive control, thereby intensifying patriarchal subordination, curtailing women’s personal freedom, circumscribing their everyday lives and negating their right to a life of dignity and autonomy. This paper discusses how the “violent city” determines women’s quotidian private lives and relationships, and explores some of the ways in which women negotiate the threat of violence and its consequences.