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Hands On Session I : Human Rights – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Hands On Session I : Human Rights

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 second speaker Adv Dr Shalu Nigam, Visiting Senior Fellow IMPRI; Advocate, Author, and Researcher, Gender and Human Rights.

Human Rights Hands-On Session

The session, skillfully guided by Prof. Shalu Nigam, undertook a profound exploration into the multifaceted realm of gender-based violence. Prof. Nigam initiated the discourse by meticulously defining the cornerstone of consent, an elemental concept that permeates the fabric of any discussion on violence and abuse. Building on this foundational understanding, the session navigated through the annals of legal history in India, unearthing significant milestones that have sculpted the contemporary discourse on consent and gender-based violence.

The journey through time commenced with a critical examination of colonial-era perspectives on consent, laying the groundwork for subsequent legal developments. Prof. Nigam adeptly steered the narrative towards landmark cases that have indelibly etched their mark on India’s legal landscape. The Mathura Rape Case emerged as a turning point, exposing fault lines in the judicial system’s approach to sexual violence. This case underscored the pressing need for a nuanced understanding of consent and the imperative to recalibrate legal frameworks accordingly.

The session unfolded as a chronological tapestry, with each legal landmark serving as a pivotal stitch. The Vishakha Guidelines, emanating from the aftermath of the Bhanwari Devi case, took center stage. These guidelines, although rooted in the context of workplace sexual harassment, served as a catalyst for broader conversations on consent and protection against gender-based violence. Prof. Nigam masterfully contextualized these guidelines within the broader spectrum of legal responses to gender-based violence.

The narrative crescendoed with the haunting echoes of the Nirbhaya Rape Case, a watershed moment that galvanized public outrage and propelled legal reforms. Prof. Nigam dissected the intricacies of the legal aftermath, shedding light on how this case spurred legislative changes, giving rise to The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. This legislative overhaul was designed to fortify legal provisions against sexual offenses, introducing stricter penalties, including life imprisonment, fines, and, significantly, the death penalty in cases involving minors.

Sections 376 (A-E) emerged as focal points within the legal discourse, with Prof. Nigam meticulously elucidating how each section delineated enhanced punishments based on specific circumstances. This detailed exploration served to demystify the legal intricacies surrounding sexual offenses and underscored the evolving nature of the law in response to societal shifts and growing awareness.

A key aspect illuminated during the session was the significant role played by The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) in providing a specialized legal framework for crimes against minors. Prof. Nigam underscored the implications of this legislation, emphasizing its commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of children in the face of heinous crimes.

The session artfully concluded by shining a spotlight on Sections 166 A and B, which hold authorities, police, and healthcare institutions accountable for negligence or inadequate treatment of victims. These legal provisions served as a stark reminder that the fight against gender-based violence extends beyond individual perpetrators to encompass systemic accountability.

In summation, Prof. Shalu Nigam’s session provided participants with a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the legal landscape surrounding gender-based violence in India. By weaving together historical perspectives, landmark cases, and contemporary legislative developments, the session not only elucidated the complexities of consent and sexual offenses but also underscored the evolving nature of legal responses to these pervasive societal challenges. Participants left the session equipped with a heightened awareness of the legal intricacies surrounding gender-based violence, poised to contribute to ongoing efforts for a more just and equitable society.

Read more event reports of IMPRI here:

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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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