#MeToo and the troubling of the rural public sphere in India
A feminist media house reports from the hinterland
in Intimacy and injury
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This chapter explores how Khabar Lahariya (KL), a digital news channel run by rural women journalists – mostly Dalit and Muslim – used the #MeToo moment to test the elasticity of an urban, privileged movement to encompass experiences of assault on women working in small towns and rural areas of north India. It locates #MeToo in a charged moment in India’s technological trajectory, as more and more of India’s rural population, whether or not they have access to food and housing, definitely have access to a mobile phone connection. Alongside shifting electoral politics, this also sets the stage for a significant change in the nature of gendered relationships and intimacies in the Indian hinterland. The KL reporters, as ‘lower’-caste women questioning power and overstepping their place, are at the receiving end of blatant sexual assault from colleagues, sources and officers in the police and administration. However, with their necessary familiarity with mobile technologies and digital networks, they also negotiate new spaces and relationships in their work, cultivating sources and colleagues at odd hours, on Whatsapp and Facebook, bending notions of sexual convention – based on age, caste, class, geography – out of shape. There is a pleasure and an agency in this that deeply affects their public and private lives. The chapter navigates how the MeToo mo(ve)ment serves to constrain these nascent disruptions, as it also works to visibilise the violence inherent in the everyday lives of rural women who overstep their boundaries.

Intimacy and injury

In the wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa

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