The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971
”Bringing Out the Snake”: Khota (Scorn) and the Public Secrecy of Sexual Violence
2015. "”Bringing Out the Snake”: Khota (Scorn) and the Public Secrecy of Sexual Violence", The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories, and the Bangladesh War of 1971, Nayanika Mookherjee
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This chapter explores the social ramifications of national testimony on the Enayetpur birangonas in their village through constant khota (sarcastic remarks expressing scorn). It shows that the relational, politico-economic, and contingent evocation of khota, honor, and shame is an idiom through which weakness is constructed and inequality reinscribed rather than being a natural state of gender. By exploring the relationship between scorn, honor, rape, sexuality, narratives of remembrance, and the emergence of “public secrets” (what people remember to forget)—and how these are interwoven by the subjectivity of the raped—the chapter argues that memories of rape are simultaneously located within the ambiguities of revelation and of concealment which are indispensable to the operations of power. Khota becomes the means through which the rapes of birangonas are combed—hidden and remembered as public secrets—while at the same time concealing local complicity with wartime rape.