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Lavanya Bahuguna


Writer Urvashi Butalia Remembers The Unheard Voices Of Women During The 1947 Partition

  • IWB Post
  •  January 28, 2017


I picked Urvashi Butalia’s book ‘The Other Side of Silence: Voices From the Partition of India’ a few days before Jaipur Lit Fest 2017 began.

And so, when I met my favorite Indian Feminist Writer at JLF, I asked her about something that began bothering me halfway through the compilation of Indo-Pak partition stories.

In the book, Butalia provides first-hand stories of people by examining their diaries, letters, memoirs, and political documents along with some heart-breaking interviews. A major part of the book talks about how the men murdered the women and children in their families before ‘others’ could rape or kill them.

Below is my small conversation with the author herself:

There are brutal stories of men killing their family members in your book, and shockingly, most of the victims were women and children.  

No man wanted to tear down his honor. For them, killing the weak ones was the only option. They feared women getting abducted and raped. 

Didn’t the women oppose?

They did. The wives, sisters, and mothers raised their voices but only from within the four walls. Sadly, they weren’t heard by many.

Can you recall the story of any movement that evolved during the partition?

Even though so many of them revolted, none of them actually came out and protested in the streets.

In a way, I guess, they accepted their fate. Didn’t they?

However, there were a few human right groups that tried helping them but it went in vain.

In 1947, many women suddenly went missing. Adding to the nightmare were some who got kidnapped and raped. Read ‘The Other Side of Silence: Voices From the Partition of India’ and share your thoughts with us.

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