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Fellows Presentations & Discussion: Creative Ideas (papers, Videos, Photo Essays, Short Films, Etc.) – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Fellows Presentations & Discussion: Creative Ideas (papers, videos, photo essays, short films, etc.)

Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) and Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute organized LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship- Cohort 2.0 Winter’23 which is an A One-Month Immersive Online Law and Public Policy Awareness Certificate Training Course and Internship Program. The theme of this course is Promoting Human Rights and Ending Gender-Based Violence. On Day 5 of the program, the fellows presented their creative ideas in the form of papers, videos, photo essays, short films, etc.

Arushi Chopra’s Presentation on Incestuous Sexual Abuse and Survivor Silencing

Arushi Chopra, in a poignant presentation, shed light on the harrowing issue of incestuous sexual abuse and the pervasive silence that shrouds survivors across generations. Her deeply personal experience served as the catalyst for a powerful discourse on a topic often considered taboo in Indian society.

Arushi began by defining incestuous sexual abuse as crimes committed by family members against women and girls within their own family. Her own journey as a survivor became the focal point, highlighting the gravity of the issue and the lasting impact it can have on mental health.

Years later, grappling with severe mental health issues, Arushi sought therapy, uncovering the connection between her precarious mental health and the childhood sexual abuse she had endured. In a courageous move towards justice, Arushi decided to file a complaint against her abuser, an empowering step that required immense courage, particularly in the absence of family support.

Arushi’s story took a distressing turn when she faced criticism from her own family.The shocking revelation that her mother and grandmother had experienced similar abuses but chose silence to protect the family underscored the deep-rooted nature of survivor silencing within Indian families.

Arushi’s narrative, highlighed the adherence to silence within Indian families. The comments survivors often hear, such as being accused of lying, facing victim-blaming, or being told to maintain silence, were starkly presented alongside an image Arushi had drawn herself.

Drawing attention to broader societal trends, Arushi shared research conducted by Modulus under their Rahat intervention. The study of 644 FIRs registered over eight years by the Mumbai police revealed that 91% of the accused were known to the victim or survivor, with close family members accounting for 18% of the accused. This shattered the myth that familial spaces are inherently safe for women and girls.

Arushi’s presentation aimed not only to share her personal journey but to bring attention to the alarming reality of incestuous sexual abuse and the pervasive silence that allows it to persist. She encouraged the audience to speak up against such abuses within their own circles, fostering a collective effort to break the silence and seek justice for survivors. Arushi’s courage in sharing her story serves as a call to action for a more open and supportive discourse on a deeply entrenched societal issue.

Debarati Choudhary’s Presentation on Two Finger Test

In a thought-provoking presentation, Debarati Choudhary delved into her ongoing research on the impact of medical evidence in the prosecution of rape cases, with a specific focus on the controversial Two-Finger Test. She provided insights into legal judgments surrounding this practice and shared her own research findings, shedding light on the persistent challenges survivors face in the pursuit of justice.

Debarati began by referencing a pivotal 2003 Supreme Court judgment that challenged the High Court’s reliance on the victim’s sexual history in a rape case. The court dismissed the Two-Finger Test as inconclusive proof of a negative and asserted that the sexual history of the victim was irrelevant to the trial proceedings. Fast forward to 2013, the Verma Report denounced the Two-Finger Test, labeling it as subjective and intrusive. Subsequently, in 2014, the Indian Health Ministry outlawed this practice, recognizing its violation of a woman’s right to privacy.

Despite legal interventions, Debarati highlighted that the Two-Finger Test persists illegally and unethically in both medical examinations and judicial proceedings. Drawing on her research, she presented three cases from states with high instances of caste atrocities, shedding light on how the Two-Finger Test is still employed and can influence case outcomes. In one instance, the acquittal of an accused was attributed to the lack of physical struggle marks and the acceptance of the Two-Finger Test results.

Debarati emphasized the severe violation of a woman’s privacy inherent in the Two-Finger Test, leading to secondary victimization. She underscored the challenges faced by women from marginalized communities, who might not fully understand the implications of the test or have access to informed consent. The presentation sought to raise awareness about the ongoing use of the Two-Finger Test and the need for a comprehensive shift in medical and legal practices.

During the discussion, Prof Vibhuti Patel, in response to Debarati’s presentation, emphasized the importance of circumstantial evidence in rape cases. She highlighted cases where circumstantial evidence played a crucial role in establishing the occurrence of sexual violence. Furthermore, she urged the audience to consider alternatives to the Two-Finger Test and stressed the significance of believing and valuing the testimony of survivors.

Debarati concluded her presentation with a powerful message—say no to the Two-Finger Test, reject secondary trauma, and stand with victim survivors. The ensuing discussion illuminated the need for a paradigm shift in medical and legal practices surrounding rape cases, emphasizing the importance of circumstantial evidence and rejecting harmful and outdated practices.

Arpitha S.’ Essay on the Critical Appraisal of Gender Justice

Arpitha S. presented a comprehensive overview of her essay, which critically appraises gender justice in India through the lens of the right to equality. The presentation outlined the key components of the essay, highlighting the amalgamation study of various laws, constitutional provisions, challenges, disparities, and pathways for change. Arpitha stressed the need for critical analysis and evaluation of legal changes, constitutional provisions, and women’s movements that have shaped gender justice in India.

Arpitha traced the foundations of gender justice in India back to colonialism and the subsequent evolution of gender rights. She emphasized the impact of legal changes in the constitution and laws that followed women’s movements. The presentation highlighted constitutional provisions supporting gender justice, aiming to maintain a balance among all genders, not just men and women. Arpitha discussed the importance of critically evaluating these provisions to gauge their effectiveness.

Arpitha delved into various challenges and disparities, including social norms, stereotypes, violence against women, access to education and healthcare, and economic empowerment. She acknowledged the multifaceted nature of gender disparities and the need for comprehensive solutions.

The pathways for change included discussions on existing empowerment programs, recommendations from the Administrative Reforms Commission’s Second Report, policy reforms, community engagement, and the integration of education and awareness from elementary school levels.

Responding to a panel suggestion, Arpitha confirmed her commitment to exploring beyond the gender binary, encompassing LGBTQ rights, the third gender bill, and the rights of persons with disabilities. This expanded the scope of the essay to cover a broader spectrum of gender-related issues.

Concluding Remarks by Prof. Vibhuti Patel

Prof Vibhuti Patel reflected on the wealth of insights garnered, on Day 5 of the course, particularly through ElsaMarie D’Silva’s illuminating presentation. The emphasis on technology’s potential in ensuring women’s safety, exemplified by the Safe City project, left a lasting impact, challenging prevalent narratives of insecurity.

The focal point on training and the imperative to overcome the pervasive fear among women resonated strongly. Prof Patel acknowledged the National Commission for Women’s commendable efforts in raising awareness through educational institutions, highlighting the importance of technological solutions. Understanding the intricacies of the IT Act and engaging in discussions on platforms like Instagram have emerged as critical components in navigating the complexities of the digital realm. 

Prof Patel commended the participants for their impactful presentations, each carrying aesthetic appeal and leaving indelible imprints. From the poignant portrayal of child sexual abuse to the powerful messages embedded in discussions on the two-finger test and the legal system through a gender lens, participants have exhibited dedication and thorough preparation.Prof Patel also expressed gratitude to all contributors, emphasizing the commitment to collective action and awareness in creating a safer and more just world for women.

Acknowledgment: This article was posted by Tanu Paliwal, a research intern at IMPRI.

Read more at IMPRI:

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