DAY TEN: Whose Success, Whose Story? Indian Women on dependent visa

The narratives of migration experiences are predominantly male-oriented. Women have always been part of the migratory journey, but they are often left unseen and unheard. Read about the story of Rashmita and the violence of dependency perpetuated by the state in the form of a dependent visa.

Tasha Agarwal

Featured image: bastamanography, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Rashmita Das from Maharashtra is a software engineer and a proud employee of a multinational firm. She is proud because she has always been an achiever and has bagged this reputed position, which paid her lakhs (hundreds of thousands of rupees), in the first round of placement held during the final year of her college. Being an educated and financially independent woman, she had her dreams, aspirations and expectations for herself. Her family arranged for a groom from the same profession, working in the US on an H1B visa offered to foreign workers in particular occupations. She married him and got settled in the US on a dependent visa known as an H4 visa. What followed in the aftermath of her migration was the unanticipated turn of her life, shattering her dreams and confidence. She found that she does not have permission to work on an H4 visa. She was scared and worried about the idea of being confined at home. The restriction on work meant that she would be financially dependent on her husband for every need, which was hard for her to accept. She could not understand why she cannot work when she was skilled enough to work. In fact, in many instances, she would help her husband in his office work at home but yet she was the dependent.

The charm and excitement of the ‘American Dream’ started fading away, and she felt lonely most of the time, confined at home. Family and friends in India would explain to her how lucky she was to be in the US and that she should stop complaining. Her loneliness turned into anger, frustration and depression. Her husband Manav could never understand why Rashmita was always talking about the need to have a job when she could have the luxury of staying at home and enjoying life. But that is not what she wanted. All she was longing for was to have an identity for herself. Manav’s sympathy soon turned into frustration, and there were frequent spells of verbal clashes, which later turned into physical abuse. Later they had a child in the hope of fixing their issues and easing her loneliness. However, things did not change much. The physical and verbal abuse became more frequent, and she started contemplating the idea of getting a divorce. She was devastated to know that in the case of divorce the principal visa holder gets custody of the child. Her visa becomes invalid because the H4 visa holder is dependent on the principal visa holder. She would have to leave the country without her child. In the blink of an eye, she felt that she lost everything. She was forced to continue in an abusive relationship to be with her child.

The narratives of migration experiences are predominantly male-oriented. Women have always been part of the migratory journey, but they are often left unseen and unheard. The story of Rashmita Das resonates with many other women in the US on an H4 visa. Though the magnitude of the issue may vary from case to case, the dependency perpetuated by the state in the form of a dependent visa has impacted many women in the US.

Every year approximately 85000 Indians leave India to join the labour market in the US on an H1B visa. There is a parallel migration stream with an approximately equal number of spouses of these H1B visa holders. Data shows that due to the systematic exclusion of women in the labour market, almost 80% of the H1B visas petitions are filed by men; implying that most H1B visa holders are men and most H4 visa holders are women (USCIS, 2019, Balgamwalla, 2014). These H4 visa holders, despite being equally skilled and educated, are legally constrained from entering the labour market. Their immigration to the US and their continuity of stay are contingent on the principal visa holder, i.e., H1B holder. The visa restricts them from possessing a social security number or even a bank account which makes women completely dependent on their husbands.

The vulnerable space in which a woman is pushed due to such a visa is exploited by many men to perpetuate violence. There have been increasing cases of physical and verbal abuse, depression, and anxiety among several thousands of women who are forced into dependency by the state. Ironically, the US was the first country to organise a national movement for women’s rights in 1848 yet after several decades, a large chunk of women have been deprived of their right to live with dignity.

The state perpetuates the patriarchal notions of social roles by assigning superior positions to men through immigration laws. Despite the US being a land of opportunity, there is no level playing field within the immigrant household. On the one hand, H1B visa holders have ample scope to excel in their careers; on the other, their married women counterparts are pushed into the confines of domestic spaces where they can be trapped in abusive relationships.

While an article on 24th February 2009 from Forbes read ‘Indian Americans: The New Model Minority’ applauding Indian immigrants in the US for their achievements and successes. But the question to ask is–whose achievements and whose successes are we talking of? Whose success stories are we extrapolating under the banner of ‘Indian’s success story’?

Author’s Bio

Tasha Agarwal is presently working as a Consultant in the Ministry of External Affairs. She has a PhD degree from the School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi and an M. Phil degree in Educational Planning and Policy from NIEPA. Her research interest lies in the field of international migration and gender, refugees and education. She has been associated with several national as well as international projects by Stanford University, SAAPE, and NCERT. She has also worked with national-level education bodies to develop innovative learning tools such as audio-visual content, comic books etc.

DAY SEVEN: Shayma’s story – Early marriage among Syrian refugee women from rural backgrounds 

As part of the FIELD SONGS project, Ann-Christin Zuntz and her colleagues conducted two workshops with middle-aged Syrian women in Gaziantep, Turkey to document Syrian refugees’ agricultural heritage. Read about Shayma’s story and the complexity behind early marriages among refugees.

Ann-Christin Zuntz

Featured image: Syrian women’s homemade cooking in Gaziantep, Turkey (Zuntz 2022)

During the Syrian conflict, the spectre of early marriage has become a staple of humanitarian discourse and NGO-run awareness-raising sessions. Humanitarian actors such as Save the Children and UNICEF ascribe early marriage to a combination of added livelihood pressures and Syrians’ patriarchal “culture”. The reality, of course, is not that simple. In this blog post, we reflect on how Syrian women in Turkey navigate changing gender roles, economic losses, and new income-generating opportunities in exile, and we consider the implications of their experiences for how we conceptualise and combat gender-based violence. 

In March and August 2022, we conducted two workshops with middle-aged Syrian women in Gaziantep, Turkey, for our FIELD SONGS project.i Through these conversations, we sought to document Syrian refugees’ agricultural heritage. In recent years, humanitarians have taken an interest in the skills that refugees acquire in host countries, and that they could later benefit from when rebuilding their homes. By contrast, in our work, we focus on the agricultural expertise and traditions that refugees bring, and that still matter for their present-day survival in Turkish agriculture, but also shape their sense of identity.

During our workshops, it soon became clear that Syrian women had very distinct, gendered experiences of working in farming: many considered women as the “pillar” of rural families, as they used to work on the fields, but also cook, weave baskets, and sew clothes inside their homes. For many participants, productive labour in agriculture was closely linked to reproductive activities, such as marriage and childbirth.  

We first heard from Shaymaii, a married woman from Palmyra, in March of 2022. She spoke movingly of her youth in rural Syria. Growing up under the watchful eyes of her father, she was not allowed to leave the family home or attend high school, even though some of her female cousins enjoyed greater freedoms. Instead, she often helped her father with agricultural tasks; these shared activities forged a strong bond between them and are now some of her fondest childhood memories. As a teenager, Shayma fell in love with a neighbour, but had to fake disinterest when he asked for her hand in marriage – admitting that she had feelings for the young man would have been shameful. Heartbroken, she turned down several more suitors, until her father threatened to divorce her mother if she refused to get married.  

Image above: Syrian women working in a greenhouse in southern Turkey (Zuntz 2022) 

At the age of 17, Shayma thus became the wife of an older man. While this was far from a love match, her husband introduced her to her greatest passion: painting. She lived a comfortable and busy life managing their growing household until the onset of the Syrian conflict, when Shayma and her sister lost several of their children in an airstrike. In Gaziantep, the family now gets by through Shayma’s work in a care home; she also regularly takes part in NGO activities. During workshop breaks, Shayma proudly scrolled through pictures on her phone: of her oldest child, a 16-year old daughter, and of beautiful artwork that she had made herself. 

In August 2022, Shayma told us that she and her husband had decided to betroth their adolescent daughter. We were surprised: had she not resented her own experience of an early and arranged marriage? But for Shayma, the passage of time, and life as a refugee, had changed her perspective. “I now understand my father better”, she explained. “He was only trying to protect me.” The reasons behind Shayma’s decision were complex: having already lost one child, she feared for her daughter in the urban sprawl of Gaziantep. She also believed that there were no other possible futures for her daughter in Turkey. In the same discussion, Shayma advocated for teaching Syrian children about agriculture, even if they now lived in Turkish cities, as white-collar jobs remained out of reach even for highly educated refugees. Finally, Shayma felt that displacement and new urban lifestyles were threatening the tight-knit rural communities that she had grown up in and sorely missed. But she thought of her agricultural heritage – including particular gender roles – not only as a bridge to the past, but also to the future: holding on to traditional expertise and family structures could later facilitate refugees’ return to Syria.

Agricultural work is family work, as evidenced by Shayma’s own memories of farming alongside her father. To her, working the land came with a deep sense of connection, encompassing nature, parenthood, and the family – aspects of life that make it “complete”. In Shayma’s version, marriage would thus not prevent a fulfilled and active life for her daughter, but rather make such a life possible within the framework of their community of origin. 

Shayma’s story does not fit humanitarian narratives about how stopping early marriage could magically unlock women’s potential as economic and even development actors. In her version, fathers and husbands are not simply oppressors, but also loving and encouraging. Similarly, women are not fully devoid of agency. Shayma has worked very hard for her entire life, first as an unpaid helper in her father’s and husband’s households, and now as a salaried nurse in Turkey. Paid or unpaid, her work has been always been meaningful to her, and she takes great pride in it. While she had no say in arranging her own marriage, as a matriarch, she now gets to decide on her children’s future.  

Practices such as early marriage that may look like “unchanging traditions” are highly fluid and given new meaning by refugees struggling to survive in unfamiliar socioeconomic contexts.

Behind sensationalists reports on rising numbers of Syrian “child brides” lie complex truths about what jobs displaced men and women used to work and now have access to, and how economic pressures, but also love and hopes for the future, shape families’ decision-making around marriage. As researchers working on refugee labour rights, we find that fighting gender-based violence against refugee women requires an integrated approach that does not single out “the patriarchy”, “refugee culture”, or “refugee men” as the usual suspects, but rather sheds light on displaced people’s gendered positioning in restrictive asylum regimes and exploitative global economies, and on their own expectations about what a “good life” may look like. 

[1] The FIELD SONGS project, led by Prof Lisa Boden from the University of Edinburgh, is a collaboration between social and agricultural scientists and musicians from the University of Edinburgh, Syrian Academic Expertise and Douzan Art & Culture, two Syrian-run organisations based in Turkey. For a full list of all team members, please consult the project website:

[2] All names changed.

Author’s Bio

Dr Ann-Christin Zuntz is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Social Anthropology department at the University of Edinburgh. She is an economic anthropologist, with a focus on the intersections of labour, migrations, and gender in the Mediterranean. Ann does collaborative research with Syrian agricultural scientists, humanitarian, and cultural practitioners within Edinburgh’s One Health FIELD Network. 

DAY FOUR: Sacrificeable bodies: gender-based violence against LGBTIQ+ people and displacement

Within debates around displacement, gender-based violence is conflated with violence against cisgender and heterosexual women. In this piece, Tina Dixson argues for the need to meaningfully engage with LGBTIQ+ communities’ experiences of displacement.

Tina Dixson (formerly co-founder Forcibly Displaced People Network)

Featured image credits: Renee Dixson

Sexual and gender-based violence are manifestations of power and an enforcement of the patriarchal order where rigid and harmful gender norms and binaries permeate relationships, and racial hierarchies are created. Perpetrators, mostly men, use their power and control to create a world where all women exist to serve their needs, and where toxic masculinity allows no divergence from a rigid sex binary. Violence is inflicted on LGBTIQ+ communities as a tool of punishment for defying this patriarchal order.

Yet in the context of displacement, gender-based violence is often conceptualised as violence against women, meaning those who are cisgender and heterosexual.

Queer and trans refugee women are rarely seen as legitimate victims of displacement. Their experiences are marginalised and their gender and sexuality are deemed private or irrelevant, if not the very cause of their displacement. In describing drivers of displacement of LGBTIQ+ people in their Age, Gender and Diversity policy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) writes that violence against this community happens “due to their sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity”. In other words, a victim is blamed for causing violence by simply being who they are, and not because violence is inflicted by the racist, homophobic and transphobic patriarchy.

There is evidence that LGBTIQ+ people experience familial (eg. forced marriages, ‘honor’ killings), societal (eg. conversion practices, stoning or ‘social cleansing’) and state violence (eg. imprisonment, perpetrator impunity or death penalty), which are drivers of displacement. Despite this violence continuing throughout their displacement  and in settlement, LGBTIQ+ refugees exist in the “zone of nonbeing”.

Françoise Vergès writes that “trans people, queer people, male and female sex workers are simply bodies to rape, traffic, torture, kill”. They are sacrificeable. They are blamed for the violence they endure. Their extinction becomes the norm.  

While gender-based violence marks the everyday for LGBTIQ+ people, especially those who are displaced, paradoxically they are excluded from how displacement is imagined. In writing about sexual and gender-based violence against refugee women, Jane Freedman categorises women who are traveling alone in the following heteronormative way: “women are travelling alone because they are single, or because they have lost their husbands during the war”. This indifference to experiences of gender-based violence against LGBTIQ+ people spans from community organisations to the UN. In 2011, I was an NGO delegate presenting a shadow report on the human rights violations against of lesbian, bisexual and trans women in Ukraine in front of the Committee operating under the Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. A day before, a Committee member from Brazil approached me during breakfast in my hotel. ‘Lead with stories, explain the impacts violence and discrimination has on women, only then mention their sexuality, and only in passing’ she said to me. Thinking about violence inflicted on these women (and very soon myself), we cannot and should not separate their gender from their sexuality. Both constitute the experience of violence.

Years after and now in my own displacement, UN rhetoric has not changed. In 2017, I was invited to join a Gender Audit team, led by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Forced Migration Research Network, to take part in the development of the Global Compact on Refugees. What offered a unique opportunity to finally make LGBTIQ+ displacement visible became an experience of silencing. Many countries never mentioned this cohort. When Western countries did, this was seen as an imposition of their values and issues that are not relevant to some bigger cause. It is no surprise that this issue became one of the first to be dropped during the negotiations process. It did not matter where you were in the room as an LGBTIQ+ refugee. You were always not the right kind of a refugee.

As a result, the final text of the Global Compact on Refugees not only omits any references to these communities but importantly creates a normative understanding of concepts such as ‘vulnerable groups in displacements’, ‘survivors of gender-based violence’, ‘specific needs in displacement’ and so on. It moves away from allowing to fit yourself in as an LGBTIQ+ refugee when your experience is mentioned as ‘other status’ in a long list of diversity characteristics to a complete silencing and fixed definitions. For example, persons with specific needs are defined as: “children, including those who are unaccompanied or separated; women at risk; survivors of torture, trauma, trafficking in persons, sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse or harmful practices; those with medical needs; persons with disabilities; those who are illiterate; adolescents and youth; and older persons”. You do not have access to words, let alone protection.

Trying to bring attention to the issues of LGBTIQ+ displacement and the extent of gender-based violence inflicted, you always hit a brick wall. Within mainstream feminism in a country such as Australia, most morning teas, report launches and parliament events during the 16 days of activism will neglect to meaningfully engage with anything other than whiteness, heterosexuality, cisgenderism and citizenship.

Within displacement activism, again heteronormativity will prevail. Still so much research on displacement that always claims to offer new and comprehensive ways of looking at this issue neglects including sexuality and gender as inherent and constituent parts of one’s selfhood, one’s displacement journey, and most importantly one’s feeling of safety and belonging. Neither acknowledges that homo- and transphobia are a feminist issue and are in turn an anti-racism and decolonial issue, and that neither of these social justice struggles can be completed in isolation.

Where LGBTIQ+ displacement is mentioned, it is either reduced to an anomaly (something so rare that it is not worthy of attention) or racialised communities are being blamed for their ‘backwardness’ when it comes to LGBTIQ+ equality.

What is missing is an honest reflection on the impact of colonisation and the importation of homophobia and transphobia onto communities who used to celebrate and honour sexual and gender diversity.

Mikki Kendall writes that “entitlement, intolerance, homophobia, misogyny, aggression and sexual violence inside and outside marginalised communities are the antisocial behaviours that patriarchal systems create” regardless of the countries location. Instead of achieving safety, marginalisation is being perpetuated.  For as long as we think of some as more deserving of protection than others simply because of who they are, violence and domination will prevail and we will not achieve justice for anyone.


You can learn more on how to work inclusively and meet the needs of LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people by passing this free training:

Author’s Bio

Tina Dixson is a PhD candidate at the Australian National University researching the lived experiences and construction of narratives on queer and trans women’s forced displacement and violence. Tina’s research focuses on trauma theory, gender studies, migration studies and queer theory. She has contributed to a range of work on LGBTIQ+ displacement within Australia and internationally.

In 2012 Tina and her partner Renee Dixson became displaced due to their LGBTIQ+ human rights work in Ukraine and settled in Australia. Tina co-founded Forcibly Displaced People Network, the first registered LGBTIQ+ refugee-led organisation in Australia, with her partner Renee Dixson in 2020. When Tina stepped down from her role with the Network, Renee Dixson became the current chair.

DAY THREE – Women’s labour migration: A journey fraught with violence

Migrant work is often gendered. In this piece, Joyce Wu and Patrick Kilby share their findings from a qualitative study with 112 women in Nepal – the gendered violence they face and their incredible courage, resourcefulness and resilience.

Joyce Wu and Patrick Kilby

Featured image: “Women lead an oath to protect women migrant workers” by ILO in Asia and the Pacific is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Across the world, there are an estimated 169 million migrant workers, with women representing 41.5% of this group. Women and women-identifying migrant workers are everywhere and in every sector, from domestic work, retail and hospitality, the garment sector, offices, to the agricultural sector and more.

Women migrant workers are diverse in their identities. They can be a European backpacker who works at a Melbourne café, or a Nepalese woman who is well-versed in serial migration: six months in Saudi Arabia as a housemaid, three years in Lebanon as a freelance migrant worker, negotiating for the best contract as a domestic worker, shopkeeper and nanny. It is the story of the latter that we have been researching for the past three years, through a UK Government funded project to evaluate the impact of the International Labour Organization (ILO) project, Work in Freedom Phase II, which seeks to create a safer migration pathway and safer working conditions for migrant women in South Asia.

Through our research, we have found that women migrant workers are incredible in courage, resourcefulness and resilience, but that they constantly face gendered violence throughout the entire migration journey.

In a qualitative study with 112 women in focus groups and as key informants in Nepal, these are our findings:

At Home and in the Community

As of 2020, Nepal receives 24.5% of its GDP from remittances. Although Nepalese women make up a small percentage at 5% of the Nepalese overseas migration, it is a number that is steadily growing.

  • The key factors driving migration are poverty and the need to support families and children, compounded by the lack of decent jobs locally due to the government’s lack of a gender-sensitive education policy which means Nepalese girls have fewer qualifications compared to boys.
  • Family and intimate partner violence (especially drug and alcohol addiction) also serve as a push factor, with 25% of Nepalese women experiencing violence during their lifetime  and 32.8% experiencing child marriage.

In our interviews with Nepalese women, working overseas thus represents an answer to poverty, as well as an escape from abusive situations.

Trafficking: A Wicked Problem with No Easy Solution

The government’s response to migrant women has been mixed. On the one hand, there are official migration agencies (locally referred to as Manpower agencies) that facilitate the process. On the other hand, Nepal vacillates between banning women from migrating or supporting them. However, limiting women’s mobility and job options overseas pushes up undocumented migration and trafficking, whereby women actively find people (sometimes it is their own family and friends who are familiar with migration procedures) who can help them.

This is a perilous journey, with India used as a transit hub to go on to the destination country.

Nepalese women have told us that during this “transit” some were forced to work in brothels for several months before being allowed to leave. This form of sexual violence and indentured labour goes unreported because Nepalese women are fearful of legal punishment if they admit to undocumented migration, as well as the stigma of being a sexual violence survivor.

At the Destination Country

For many, it is a work experience fraught with physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and financial violence. Middle Eastern countries that operate the Kafala system enables employers to withhold migrant workers’ visa and passport, thus having enormous power over them.

Women have reported being underpaid or not at all, having to work 18 hours and sleep in noisy, public areas of the house, being subjected to sexual violence and harassment from the men and boys in the household, as well as beatings and berating over small mistakes.

In Lebanon, the combination of COVID-19 and the Beirut Port explosions left migrant workers destitute as some found themselves dumped by their employers on the roadside.  

However, for some women, overseas migration means higher income, the opportunity to learn new languages and cultures, and gaining self-confidence and new skills. They were able to network and work together with other migrant women to negotiate better contracts and work conditions with employers, as well as sending money back home. Children’s education and a better prospect for them is one of the key motivations for migrant women, although a number of them also expressed worry that their children are not looked after properly by their partner and/or family back home, with reports of children being teased for having a “migrant woman” as a mother. Children dropping out of was also a concern.

Ending Gendered Violence against Women

Migrating overseas for work in the hope of better outcomes will continue to be a push factor for migrant women globally. Gender inequality, globalisation and the feminisation of certain labour mean that there will be a constant demand for female migrant workers. Governments need to recognise that this is a complex issue with no quick fixes, and ending gender inequality and eliminating violence against women need to be at the centre of any policy lens.

Authors’ bios

Joyce Wu is a Senior Lecturer in Global Development at the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales. She is a Fulbright Fellow and Deputy Editor of Development in Practice.

Patrick Kilby is an Associate Professor in the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Australian National University. Patrick is the Chief Editor of Development in Practice.

DAY ONE: Welcome to 2022’s 16 Days Blogathon

This year’s annual blogathon brings together voices from academia, activism and the creative arts to raise awareness of this ongoing struggle. The blogathon marks a continuing collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Dr B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi, and the University of New South Wales.  

Featured image: From UN Women – “In focus: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence which runs from 25 November to 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year’s annual blogathon brings together voices from academia, activism and the creative arts to raise awareness of this ongoing struggle. The blogathon marks a continuing collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, Dr B.R. Ambedkar University, Delhi, and the University of New South Wales.  

Our theme this year is migration, mobilities, and displacement. This is an urgent theme, both historically and given the current moment. We are living through one of the largest and most rapid forced displacements of our times with some four million Ukrainians fleeing to neighbouring countries. This is not the only example of forced displacement: across the planet, populations are on the move in search of shelter from war, extreme climate change, and political instability. Historically, as our bloggers note, the foundational violence of settler colonialism and racialized labor regimes have violently separated people from their communities, rendering them vulnerable to harm.

Through an analysis of both violence and the reparative work of care, this year’s 16-day Blogathon explores how people endure and negotiate gender-based violence in contexts of voluntary and coerced movement.  

Our blogathon follows in the tradition begun in 1991 by activists at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute. That decade was marked by an emphasis on gender in global development initiatives. In 1995, the UN held the Fourth World Conference on Women that adopted the Beijing Declaration with an agenda for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Where are the conversations today, thirty years later? As we curated the blogathon, we found that our interlocutors adopted a quite different approach to gender from the discourse of the 1990s.

One of our bloggers critically notes that “in the context of displacement, gender-based violence is often conceptualised as violence against women, meaning those who are cisgender and heterosexual.” Rather than considering women as the a priori subject of gender-based violence, our blogathon show how gender-based violence is produced in a range of institutional sites and contexts.   

This year’s opening blog is by Urvashi Butalia, well-known historian and founder of the feminist publishing house, Kali for Women. She writes about India’s Partition, drawing on stories from the time to raise questions about what ‘displacement’ means when, really, you have no place at all to call your own. Gendered violence is enacted through separations of land and people. 

Indeed, many of our bloggers show how forms of settler colonialism and war have displaced people from their land and their communities, thus fracturing kinship and intergenerational strength. Equally, borders act as technologies of violence, inviting certain laboring bodies and confining and isolating others—their spouses—whose labor of social reproduction is unrecognized. Moving bodies are also read as not “belonging” at certain times of day and night, as “foreign,” or “out-of-place” in certain spaces. We investigate a range of these spaces: refugee camps, crisis pregnancy centers, homes, and domestic shelters. Our bloggers draw on narratives – either from ethnographic research, personal testimonies, or literary accounts – of sexual violence in wars, and detail the racialized, sexualized, classed, and gendered dynamics of these forms of violence.  

Our bloggers also show us how a gender analysis can expose the problematic construction of the “ideal” victim in international humanitarian and legal discourse. Such a figure is mobilized by normative ideas of gender and sexuality. Through queer and trans perspectives, the blogathon shows how homophobia and transphobia necessitate migration and the cobbling together of community-based “safe spaces.” The lived experience of violence in migrant life is thus not experienced through the individual alone but distributed through the communities that marginalized migrants belong to. Despite what some of our bloggers named as the “inevitability of rape and sexual abuse” in the refugee experience, there are now vibrant networks that situate refugee voices as leaders in international decision-making fora.  

Even amidst the violence of war and border-making are forms of public and community art that enable survivors to bear witness and create art that gives form to experience and enables healing. We explore the feminist possibilities of witnessing and seeking justice through alternative courts and hear about the public installation of clothes of survivors of sexual violence. We explore the visual landscapes of art created in the aftermath of large-scale sexual violence during war. We hear the songs and read about the characters who have experienced gender-based violence during migration.  

We hope that our curation of this year’s blogathon leaves you with a multi-lensed analysis of how gender-based violence works through patriarchy, colonialism, war, and racialized violence.

We also hope that we can give you a sense of the crucial forms of care and mutual aid through which communities stitch together the resources and kinship that are necessary to survive and thrive amidst both the violence and the possibilities of mobilities, movement, and displacement. 

Content note: posts inevitably address distressing experiences and issues around sexual and gender-based violence. We hope they also provoke, energise and at times, serve to provide hope when it seems most bleak.

The 2022 curators:

University of Edinburgh: Dr Radhika Govinda (Director), Dr Hemangini Gupta (Assoc Director and 2022 Blogathon Co-Lead), Dr Zubin Mistry (Steering Group Member and 2022 Blogathon Co-Lead) and Aerin Lai (PhD web and editorial assistant) from GENDER.ED.

Dr B R Ambedkar University Delhi: Prof. Rukmini Sen (Director, Centre for Publishing), Dr Rachna Mehra (School of Global Affairs).

University of New South Wales: Prof. Jan Breckenridge (Co-Convenor), Mailin Suchting (Manager) and Georgia Lyons (Research Assistant) for the Gendered Violence Research Network.