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Framing Human Rights: Beyond Binaries And Stereotypes – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Framing Human Rights: Beyond Binaries and Stereotypes

Session Report
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IMPRI Centre for Human Dignity and Development, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, conducted Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship – Cohort 2.0 Winter’23 on the theme: Promoting Human Rights and Ending Gender-Based ViolenceThe session was held on the Occasion of Human Rights Day. December 10th, 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). 

On Day 2 of the course, our first speaker was Adv Dr. Albertina Almeida, Lawyer and Human Rights Activist, Goa. The session began with, Prof Vibhuti Patel, the Chair of the program, gave a brief recap of the previous sessions and outlined the basic tenets on which the idea of a “Human Right” is constructed. A human right is interdependent, indivisible and inalienable. This means that guaranteeing one human right does not guarantee all, more often than not, the violation of one human right leads to the violation of others too and they are unconditional. They are also universal and applicable to every individual in the world. 

Framing Human Rights: Beyond Binaries and Stereotypes

Dr. Almeida’s insightful session delved into the complex landscape of human rights in India, emphasizing the constitutional guarantees and international commitments that safeguard the rights of every individual. The discussion began by highlighting the multifaceted nature of human identity, where violations often stem from the intersectionality of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and sexuality. Dr. Almeida skillfully underscored the significance of recognizing these various dimensions to comprehend the intricate challenges faced by individuals in the Indian context. The session commenced by providing concrete examples of class-based violence, focusing on the grim realities of trafficking and prostitution. It painted a stark picture of the state’s failure in establishing an effective framework to curb these issues, leaving vulnerable populations exposed to exploitation and abuse. The ensuing debate on sex trafficking and prostitution legalization highlighted the polarizing opinions within society, showcasing the need for a nuanced and comprehensive approach to address these complex issues.

The gender-caste-ethnicity nexus was explored in detail, unraveling its role in perpetuating heinous crimes such as murders, rapes, and discrimination against minorities. Dr. Almeida’s analysis extended to examining the state’s potential complicity in these violations, emphasizing the critical importance of implementing and enforcing key statutes like the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. The subsequent exploration of the conflict between the Uniform Civil Code and the Diversity of Family Laws provided valuable insights into the legal complexities surrounding marriage, inheritance, divorce, and the right to livelihoods. This discussion shed light on the need for a harmonized legal framework that respects diverse identities and practices.

The session skillfully navigated through the opposing forces of Globalization and Nationalism, illustrating their impact on individuals’ lives and underscoring the need for a balanced approach. Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism were presented as binaries, urging participants to transcend simplistic perspectives and engage in nuanced discussions. The tension between individual and community rights further enriched the discourse, challenging participants to contemplate these issues through the broader lens of human rights violations.

In conclusion, Dr. Almeida reinforced the paramount importance of comprehending human rights, their application in the Indian context, and the intricate complexities inherent in the legal framework. The session successfully instilled a critical mindset among participants, urging them to look beyond binary oppositions and ponder the state’s obligations to its citizens. With this comprehensive exploration, Dr. Almeida’s session not only illuminated the nuances of human rights issues but also underscored the imperative for a more inclusive and holistic approach to address the myriad challenges faced by diverse populations in India.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

Hands On Session I : Human Rights

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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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