ANR Programme 2009-2013
image of courtroom
A Joint Programme on Justice and Governance in India and South Asia
(Hosted by Centre for Himalayan Studies)

June 2010, Shalini Randeria & Pratiksha Baxi

Organised with the support of the Foundation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris

Thursday June 10th, 10am to 12.30pm
At the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Paris

Pratiksha Baxi: Adult Discourses, Children's Voices: An Ethnographic Account of a Rape Trial in India

While the first principle of statutory rape cases is that children below the age of consent are presumed not to have the capacity to consent to sexual intercourse, I show that if the law makes the courtroom habitable for female children it does so by inscribing on their bodies those very conditions of testimony that apply to adult women. In this paper, I argue that while such testimonial conditions presume that the child must learn to gaze at her body as an adult body; at the same time, the child witness must testify to rape in childlike categories, retaining suggestions of innocence. In court, the prosecution has to rely on the child witness testimony to persuade the court that the accused is guilty. This description of facts must remain childlike yet evidentiary requirements treat of rape as an adult crime. We find that in such cases that defence lawyers use several strategies to establish that the child is not really a child and in the ultimate analysis, the childhood of the legal subject is questioned. Hence, on the one hand, the law assumes that the child does not have the capacity to describe what happened in categories of adult women and on the other hand, the very standards that evaluate the testimony of adult women are used to verify the childs testimony.

Go to Pratiksha's page

Shalini Randeria: Law in Project Mode: World Bank and Displacement in Mumbai

In 2006, the World Bank temporarily suspended funding to two components of the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) following concerns about the equitable resettlement and rehabilitation of people affected by the project. The displaced people have gone to not only the High Court (one case is still pending), but also earlier to the inspection panel of the world bank. The paper will be dealing with the panel judgement and various dimensions of transnationalisation of law.