In this paper, I argue that to truly understand the complexity and “high prevalence” of acid violence against women in Bangladesh, we must pay attention to the confluence of political, economic and historical forces that make certain social groups more vulnerable to such extreme violence and suffering. By tracing the life history narratives of survivors of gender-based violence, I hope to shed light that acid throwing—a form of gendered violence—has to be understood beyond a “culturalist” framework, which explains this phenomenon as a product of harmful patriarchal cultural practices, seemingly more prevalent in certain South Asian cultures. Rather, I argue, acid violence has to be understood within a broader “structural inequality” framework, which maps the vulnerability of the victims onto their life trajectory shaped by complex forces of globalization, neoliberal development, patriarchy and poverty. Focusing on the systemic oppressions faced by vulnerable social groups whether embedded in family, kin and community structures or the global capitalist system, I argue that mapping a trajectory of suffering can aid in imagining a more nuanced and humane transnational analytic and response with regards to violence against women.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/elora_chowdhury/4/