news and reviews
about the author



This website provides information and resources relating to my book about ethnic conflict in Ahmedabad, which has been published in two separate editions. The global edition, published by IB Tauris, is entitled Communalism and Sexual Violence in India: The Politics of Gender, Ethnicity and Conflict, and was released in June 2016. The South Asia edition is entitled Communalism and Sexual Violence: Ahmedabad since 1969 and was published by Tulika in January 2017.

Global Edition

Buy from IB Tauris
Buy from amazon.com
Buy from amazon.co.uk

South Asia Edition

Buy from Tulika
Buy from amazon.co.in
Buy from LeftWord
Buy from Scholars without Borders


Sexual violence has been a regular feature of communal conflict in India since independence in 1947. The Partition riots, which saw the brutal victimization of thousands of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh women, have so far dominated academic discussions of communal violence. This book examines the specific conditions motivating sexual crimes against women based on three of the deadliest riots that occurred in Ahmedabad city, Gujarat, in 1969, 1985 and 2002. Using an in-depth, grassroots-level analysis, Megha Kumar moves away from the predominant academic view that sees Hindu nationalist ideology as responsible for encouraging attacks on women. Instead, gendered communal violence is shown to be governed by the interaction of an elite ideology and the unique economic, social and political dynamics at work in each instance of conflict.

Using government reports, Hindu nationalist publications and civil society commentaries, as well as interviews with activists, politicians and riot survivors, the book offers new insights into the factors and ideologies involved in communal violence, as well as the conditions that work to prevent sexual violence in certain riot contexts.

This book will be valuable for academic researchers, Human Rights organizations, NGOs working with survivors of sexual violence and for those involved with community development and urban grassroots activism.


In all probability, Kumar is the first social scientist to have forged an intrinsic connection between the exhortation of Hindu nationalist ideology and sexual violence

The Telegraph, India

It is a testament to the book's richness that, while it clearly shows the effects of economic privation and electoral failure on the exercise of sexual violence in communal riots, it also elicits questions that far exceed this purview

Economic & Political Weekly

This book is extremely important, especially in light of recent events which have seen a surge of sexual violence and censorship in India

Asian Affairs


The book combines fine-grained empirical research with considerable conceptual acumen and penetrating analysis. Megha Kumar has taken on a particularly difficult theme to write about and she writes with great honesty and meticulous scholarship.

Tanika Sarkar, Retired Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

Megha Kumar's book is important because of its subject and because of the way she approaches it. Sexual violence during communal riots has been a recurring feature of the Hindu-Muslim conflict at least since Partition. Kumar shows that when it is exerted by Hindu nationalist activists, it is directly connected to their ideology, including the muscular, machist dimension of this repertoire. She makes this point by presenting a detailed ethnographic account of three violent episodes of the history of Ahmedabad, the Gujarati city where the number of casualties of Hindu-Muslim riots has been the largest in India since 1947. This book makes it clear that social scientists can approach analytically the question of sexual violence at the time of communal conflicts.

Christophe Jaffrelot, Senior Research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology, King's College London

This is a gripping and, unfortunately, apparently accurate account of the largely hidden and silently tolerated victimization of mostly Muslim women and men by a vast segment of Indian society that, for the most part, turns a blind eye to it.

Paul R. Brass, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and South Asian Studies, University of Washington