Violence Against Women: What’s Law Got to Do With It? A Reflection on Gang Rape in India

  • School of Population & Public Health Faculty of Medicine University of British Columbia
  • International Women's Rights Project Director


The brutal gang rape of a physiotherapy student in India in December 2012 drew the world’s attention to the problem of sexual violence against women in the country.  Protests and mass public reaction towards the case pressurized the government to respond to the crisis by changing the laws on sexual violence. However, these new laws have not led to a decrease in VAW. Is this the result of the failure of the rule of law? Or does it highlight the limitations of law in absence of social change? This paper addresses the need for using law as a key tool in addressing violence against women in India.  It recognizes that unless we address the structural and root causes of violence against women, our analysis will be limited. It is important to bridge the creation of new laws, with an analysis that speaks to the role of hypermasculinity, neoliberalism and culture in VAW. If unaddressed, what may result instead are quick fixes, symbolized by passing laws that act as token gestures, rather than leading to transformative action.

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Published: 2014-10-29
Pages:4 to 21
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How to Cite
Sharma, R. and Bazilli, S. (2014) “Violence Against Women: What’s Law Got to Do With It? A Reflection on Gang Rape in India”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 3(3), pp. 4-21. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v3i3.155.