The Acts and Facts of Women's Autonomy in India

Diogenes 53 (4):85 - 101 (2006)
This paper addresses questions of women’s autonomy in India and analyses its location within the legal discourse. The women’s movement has primarily tried to analyse questions of women’s autonomy through exploring women’s position in law. Among other indicators, women’s position in society is often analysed through marriage, divorce and property acts. This paper analyses the evolution of these acts and critiques whether they have led to women’s autonomy or merely subsumed questions of autonomy resulting in further marginalization of women in the polity. The paper begins with the assumption that locations matter and that laws affect different women differently, particularly in the context of India where civil law is constantly pitted against personal and customary law. To understand the situation of women in India, therefore, an understanding of the evolution of laws seems necessary, because laws are considered to be primary markers of autonomy
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