Legal Study: Sisters in Crisis – Violence against women under India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act

A number of studies and international legal arguments have been made to challenge the legality of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act ― in force across much of India’s North and East ― by way of India’s constitution, and its international human rights obligations. This paper aims to explore the socio-legal and psychological forms of violence to which women are subjected under the Act, directly and indirectly, using the growing toolkit of international instruments to protect and advance women’s human rights, and in reference to current feminist legal scholarship. By doing so it aims to highlight India’s continuing and resounding failure to progressively realize women’s equality in the North and East, and the often invisible forms of gendered harm wrought by this low-profile yet powerfully destructive emergency law, along with and militarization generally.

Access the full legal study [pdf]: Violence Against Women under India’s AFSPA J Baker


This paper was written as part of a Master’s degree in International Human Rights Law, at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 2010 – 2011. Thanks goes to the supervision of Proff. Fareda Banda, and feedback from human rights activists in the North and East, in particular Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert, Manipur, Bijo Francis of the Asian Human Rights Commission, and social entrepeneur Hasina Kharbhih.


Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                               3

India and international law                                                                    4

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act                                           6

What does AFSPA mean for women?                                                    7

i)                    Violence against women in international law

ii)                  Violence, impunity and access to justice in the North and East

iii)                Militarization and violence against women

Conclusion                                                                                                        13

Bibliography                                                                                                     14

Appendix 1: Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958                                  20

Appendix 2:  List of Dos & Don’ts as directed by the                                    21
Supreme Court in Naga People’s Movement of Human
Rights v Union of India
[1997] ICHRL 117