With this new issue of Out of Print we bring you a collection of stories, reportage, testimonies, fiction and non-fiction on the theme of sexual and gender violence.
Subimal Misra, translated from the Bengali by V Ramaswamy, subverts literary conventions in his trademark experimental style as he writes on the sex workers of Sonagachi, Asia’s largest red-light district. Vrinda Baliga and Farah Ghuznavi explore, each from a different point of view, child sexual abuse in the context of family. Another story contained within the family by Parvati Sharma examines the clarity with whicha mother views a son accused of domestic abuse. The protagonist in Vasudhendra’s work, translated from Kannada by Rashmi Terdal, undergoes the experience of being outcast and transgendered in rural Karnataka where feudal ideas of masculinity hold sway. Fehmida Zakeer’s story imagines what happens when the burden of tradition exploits the aspirations of modern young women. In the urbanised, elite milieu of New Delhi, Amrita Tripathi’s story potrays the the frightening vulnerability women as they negotiate a city and its corridors of power. Also set in a privileged urban world, Nishita Jha’s debut short story explores perverse voyeurism against the backdrop of a dysfunctional marriage.
Another debut is Gayatri Jayaraman’s short story, which wrenches back the lost autonomy of the female body through the act of writing. Zui Kumar-Reddy’s piece, also a first time publication, is one where the next generation has a visceral response to sexual violence which has been buried in family memory. In Shabhnam Nadiya’s brave work of creative non-fiction, she lends her voice to a victim of physical abuse by examining personal pain. Kuzhali Manickavel’s story, also intensely personal in its approach is about a woman who deals with daily violation in a public space.
Rashna Imhasly-Gandhy’s essay invites us to re-examine and reclaim myth while Chitra Ganesh’s graphic piece represents this simultaneous reclamation and rebellion. This is true also of Pavitra Srinivasan’s nuanced retelling of a Tamil folk tale.
Ajay Navaria’s novella, translated from Hindi by Sudarshan Purohit, examines the deadly mix of caste, class, modernity and patriarchy coming together in a horrific act of sexual violence.
Salil Tripathi’s collection of testimonies from the Bangladesh War point to the use of rape as weapon of war. Sunny Hundal looks at the constructs, the mindset and the reality of the statistics that perpetuate sexual and gender violence. Neha Dixit’s essay on the Muzzaffarnagar riots investigates rape in the context of communal violence while Urvashi Butalia and Navsharan Singh’s powerful paper calls attention to the silencing of sexual violence in the subcontinent and the culture of impunity that has been fostered around it.
The cover art by Chitra Ganesh is entitled Wedding Night (2000, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 66 inches). More about Chitra Ganesh's practice may be read below the Editors' Note.
With this issue of Out of Print we believe it is important that we extend this conversation beyond the realm of literary writing. We invite readers, to join us through a new initiative, Mapping Sexual Violence to respond, discuss, write about other instances of sexual violence that they may have experienced, know about or have been affected by.