By Ranald Leask, International Press Officer, the University of Edinburgh.

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The subject under discussion in Kolkata today is indeed topical. Women’s position in Indian society has long been an issue of heated debate. Recently, the abuse suffered by many at the hands of men has been highlighted in some horrific cases.

Attitudes appear to be changing, at least in the sense it’s a subject that some Indians are willing to debate. Last night the University held a reception for Edinburgh alumni – an opportunity for graduates to catch up with old friends and make new ones. One recent anthropology graduate told me that as a writer, she is finding it easier to have articles on female abuse cases since the recent spate of rapes received national and international attention.

It’s a topic that has been analysed from many angles at today’s conference, entitled (en)gendering Migration:Narratives from South Asia and beyond. PhD student Lauren Wilks, Professor Crispin Bates and Professor Roger Jeffery from Edinburgh were joined by colleagues from India and abroad.

In this interview, Dr Bates explains why such topics require thorough debate.