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Empowering Change: Insights On Forensic Medicine, Gender-Based Violence, And Human Rights – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Empowering Change: Insights on Forensic Medicine, Gender-Based Violence, and Human Rights

Session Report
Nikita Saha

The IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), in partnership with the Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) and the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), organized the LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship – Cohort 2.0 Winter’23. This intensive one-month online program, focused on enhancing law and public policy awareness through immersive training and practical internships, explored the central theme of “Promoting Human Rights and Ending Gender-Based Violence.”

On the program’s sixth day, culminating its successful run, Professor Vina Vaswani, the esteemed Director of the Center for Ethics and Professor of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology at Yenepoya University, Mangalore, delivered the final address. The valedictory session featured a detailed program presentation by the organizing team and insightful remarks from Professor Vibhuti Patel.

Professor Vina Vaswani, graced the Law, Public Policy, and Youth Leadership Cohort 2.0 organized by IMPRI with her invaluable expertise.

Professor Vaswani’s distinguished address commenced with a laudatory acknowledgement of IMPRI’s commitment to convening leading practitioners, ensuring invaluable knowledge dissemination to program participants. She underscored the enduring significance of meticulous documentation for continuous learning and professional advancement.

Drawing upon her enriching experiences as a program participant, Professor Vaswani eloquently elucidated her journey of continuous learning and active engagement in diverse initiatives. The core focus of her address then transitioned to analyzing the critical intersection of forensic science and gender-based violence.

Gender-Based Violence and Human Rights

Professor Vaswani shed light on the historical lacuna in recognizing women’s rights, emphasizing the persistent marginalization of the transgender community. With poignant candour, she recounted her pioneering journey as the first female practitioner of forensic medicine in Karnataka, encountering resistance fueled by deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes within the medical and legal communities.

Transitioning to the Law, Public Policy, and Youth Leadership Cohort 2.0, Professor Vaswani commended the program’s success, attributing it to the diverse and intellectually potent cohort of participants. She passionately emphasized the importance of lifelong learning and the transformative power of each individual’s unique perspective. Through collaborative interaction, critical reflection, and self-introspection, she envisioned the potential for establishing best-practice guidelines in the field.

Professor Vaswani then shared her profound experiences from the trenches of forensic medicine, particularly about gender-based violence cases. She highlighted a critical flaw within the existing medical-legal system, whereby the contextual significance of injuries sustained in domestic violence instances is often disregarded. She poignantly elaborated on how the investigative focus prioritizes identifying the weapon used, neglecting the crucial intentionality and broader context surrounding the violence.

The esteemed speaker poignantly illustrated the challenges forensic experts face in effectively conveying the true magnitude of domestic violence, dowry deaths, and burn injuries to the legal system. Professor Vaswani further delineated the pervasive issue of police prioritizing perpetrator identification over context comprehension. She passionately advocated for a more holistic approach in forensic investigations, emphasizing the crucial role of historical background analysis in ensuring justice.

Drawing upon her extensive experience, Professor Vaswani shed light on the pervasive biases within the police force, citing instances where victims, predominantly women, encountered resistance and abuse while attempting to register complaints. She shared a moving account of a commercial sex worker who, after being sexually assaulted at a police station, faced further abuse while attempting to report the incident.

Professor Vaswani eloquently addressed the ongoing injustices faced by women who encounter difficulties in registering complaints, often being unfairly accused of ulterior motives or burdened by societal biases. She highlighted the detrimental influence of patriarchal attitudes in high-profile cases, such as those in Hatras and Kathua, where societal prejudices impede the pursuit of justice.

Furthermore, Professor Vaswani championed the significance of foreseeability within the legal system, advocating for robust checks and balances to prevent miscarriages of justice. She critically discussed the potential pitfalls of social media, acknowledging its capacity to champion and compromise justice while emphasizing the need for discretion in sensitive cases, particularly those involving influential individuals.

Professor Vaswani’s insightful session concluded with a powerful call for introspection and concerted action to dismantle biases within the legal and educational systems. She ardently championed encouraging girls to pursue higher education without societal constraints. The esteemed speaker concluded by urging program participants to leverage their newly acquired knowledge to actively contribute to advancing human rights, particularly those of women and young girls.

In conclusion, Professor Vina Vaswani’s thought-provoking presentation explored the complexities and biases plaguing forensic medicine and the legal system in addressing gender-based violence. Her insightful and impassioned call for collective action highlighted the crucial role of education and awareness in reshaping societal norms and upholding human dignity.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Addressing Gender-based Violence & the Way Forward

Hands On Session IV : Gender Based Violence

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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