privacy policy

Victimised in the Name of Protection – Revisiting the Institutional Reforms for Marginalised Women in Shelter Homes


· Pallavi Beri AMITY University Haryana, India (Gurugram, India)


07/26 | 18:30-18:50 UTC+2/CEST


Abstract – ‘Oppressed in private, disempowered in public’ - the life of women is marked by endemic marginalisation as a result of systemic subjugation and victimisation sanctioned by the patriarchal logic within the realms of domesticity as well as while engaging with the state and society. Various forms of gender-intensified disadvantages in the form of social suppression, economic discrimination, political isolation and cultural domination explain how women have been systematically relegated to marginal sites. A range of legal and institutional reforms have been introduced with the purpose of securing socio-legal justice and institutional support to women in distress. In India, the reforms came in with the establishment of women shelter homes towards providing shelter, care and protection to abandoned, marginalised and abused women. Despite the claimed attempts to ascertain the purpose and functioning of the shelter homes, parallel stories of neglect, torture, harassment of helpless women have continued to mark headlines. Most often the fact that state institutions are constituted by hierarchies of gender and that institutions created new forms of gendered subjection and marginalities is ignored in policy. The paper offers a feminist critique of institutional reforms and interrogates how the reforms rather than eliminating those conditions of marginalisation reinforce gendered subordination in the name of ‘protection’. Through a narrative account of the inmates of shelter homes, the paper illustrates how the lacunae in the laws and its institutional mechanisms with the functional ideology of ‘protectionism’ have made the task of patriarchal oppression easier.