chapter  3
38 Pages

Victims, Whores, and Wives: Migrant Women and the Law

In this chapter I focus on laws and judicial decisions that have impacted on the rights of migrant women, examining the assumptions about women’s roles and identities that are deeply embedded in the law, including those laws that have ostensibly been designed for women’s benefi t. I direct my discussion to two aspects: the moral regulation through which migrant women are constructed as, and judged in accordance with the standards of ‘good women’, chastity, heterosexuality, self-sacrifi ce, dependency, and victimisation; and economic regulation through which migrant women are constructed as economic dependents or exploited victims. Each of these is in turn informed by the register of sexual, familial, and cultural norms that are used to legitimise or delegitimise the migrant subject. I argue that the law is intensifying the conditions that have both created women’s economic vulnerability and also undermined the law’s ability to adequately address such vulnerability. It is further reifying assumptions about Indian cultural values and the defi ning attributes and identity of the nation, as well as who constitutes the legitimate sovereign subject.