Partitioning Body and State: Interethnic Conflict and Cooperation on Gender Violence in India Open Access

Pabbaraju, Shreya (Spring 2021)

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In December 2012, India erupted in protests when a 22-year old Hindu woman, Jyoti Pandey, was gang-raped and killed on the back of a dusty bus in Delhi. Since then, attempts to combat gender violence have been made by Indian political actors, including the Violence Against Women Act. Despite the passage of many reforms, there has been little “real” change in curbing violence, considering gang-rapes like those of Priyanka Reddy continue to garner national attention. Both times, the faces of massive nation-sweeping protests have been Hindu, marginalizing the stories of Muslim women alongside other religious minorities. Scholars suggest that these policies to deter violence against women have been ineffective because they serve ulterior motives to promote Hindu Nationalism rather than structural, intersectional change. Therefore, I ask in this thesis: what incentives do rivalrous ethnic groups have for cooperation on alternate social dimensions, such as gender violence? I hypothesize that through processes of instrumentalization, there exist personal and gendered biases toward interethnic group members that can be cemented into policy. I conduct a survey through MTurk, asking batteries of questions that cover demographic information, religious and nationalistic behaviors, voting behaviors, and pre-existing gender biases. Respondents are then presented with vignettes detailing incidents similar to the gang rapes of Pandey and Reddy -- however, the associated identities are changed to signify Hindu or Muslim religious backgrounds. Similar vignettes present a woman with no other identity-signifier, one that invokes nationalism, and two that signify occupational-status. The survey then fields respondents’ attitudes on mobilizing around violence against women. I find evidence that Hindu men and women hold biases against Muslim women, particularly those who work, and are less likely to support policies to combat gender violence for them. Moreover, very religious Hindus are more likely to support policies to combat gender-based violence when a target is labeled as an “Indian” rather than a Muslim, for example. Caste affiliations also color the way that people mobilize around policies. These findings prove that there is rampant Islamophobia in India and that out-group biases and antagonistic social norms can manifest into policy decisions and consolidate in-group power.

Table of Contents

Funding 3

Introduction 4

The Illusions of Primordialism & The Legitimacy of Instrumentalism 8

Invocative Divisions: Nationalism, Communalism, and the “Fierce” Indian Conflict 14

Institutionalism in Action: Group-Projection and Postcolonial Voter Clientelism 15

Politics of the Body: Charting Gender Through Violence, War, and Border Conflict 20

The Male Warrior Hypothesis 22

Building a Theory of Change: Institutionalizing Gender and Ethnic Conflicts 23

Hypotheses 25

Informational Exposure 25

National Associations 26

Ethno-Religious Associations 27

Occupation 27

Mechanism of Mobilization 28

What are the Driving Demographic Factors, if any? 29

Methods & Survey Design 31

Procedures 33

Use of MTurk and Relevance to Sample 34

Piloting 35

Operationalization 35

Demographic Information: 35

Identity Marker Questions: 35

Political Norms: 36

Gender Norms: 36

Vignettes and Priming: 37

Perceptions of Violence Against Women: 40

Mobilization: 42

Controls 42

Results 42

Table 1: Variable Effects on Violence Against Women Policy Promotion 43

Table 2: Variable Effects on Mobilization 44

Table 3: Gender 44

Table 4: Caste 45

Table 5: Nationalism 45

Table 6: Ethno-linguistic / Sub-ethnic Identities 46

Table 7: Religiosity 46

Table 8: Ethno-religious Affiliation 47

Tables 9 and 10: Ethno-religious Affiliation and Religiosity 47

Table 11: Attitudes Toward Formally Working Women 48

Effects of Note: 48

Analyses and Robustness 49

Discussion: 50

Limitations and Future Directions 56

Conclusion: 57

Appendix 60 A-M

Works Cited 61

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