Project Objectives

The overall objective of this project is to bring together the collective knowledge of South Asian academics, researchers and activists on the difficult subject of sexual violence and impunity and to create a body of solid and multi-faceted knowledge about this important subject in order to show the way towards beginning a meaningful, nuanced and practical dialogue on peace and justice.

There are many dimensions of sexual violence that remain unexplored and unexplained. Some of the questions that this project aims to engage with are:

How does one define sexual violence?

What is the nature of impunity and how it functions on the ground?

What is the impact of such violence on society: its economic and social costs?

What does justice comprise: punishment for the perpetrators, compensation, reparations, acknowledgement, apology?

How does one acknowledge the suffering caused by violence, and ensure that it is not repeated?

What are ways in which women, and sometimes communities, create structures to deal with the trauma and dislocation caused by sexual violence?

What legislation exists and how it can be implemented?

How evidence (medical and forensic) should be gathered and interpreted? What are the difficulties in doing this?

While South Asian countries have all too often remained divided because of geo-political considerations, the women of South Asia have often come together to share experiences and knowledge and to discuss a wide range of issues. By collaborating on this subject and bringing our collective and comparative knowledges to bear on it, we hope not only to learn from each other but also to show a way towards beginning a dialogue of peace, on a difficult subject, albeit an important one.

More specifically, the project will

i) produce a minimum of 30 high quality research papers on the following broad themes:

  1. Sexual Violence and Impunity
  2. History of Sexual Violence in the South Asia region
  3. Justice and Reparations for sexual violence
  4. Legal Practices around sexual violence
  5. Questions of Evidence (including medical and forensic regimes)
  6. Legal and prosecutorial process, states of exception, special courts


ii) build a community of new, young and committed researchers who will bring fresh insights to bear on their work on sexual violence and to put this community in touch across South Asia, thereby strengthening the process of dialogue and peace making.

iii) disseminate the findings of the project through books,  shorter articles in the media and other media, and to use this to further advocacy and lobbying work with States and governments so that the issue of sexual violence and impunity is given the attention it deserves.

iv) bring the subject to public attention through two public hearings.