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LPPYF Law And Public Policy Youth Fellowship- Cohort 2.0 Winter’23 – Theme: Promoting Human Rights And Ending Gender-Based Violence – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

LPPYF Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship- Cohort 2.0 Winter’23 – Theme: Promoting Human Rights and Ending Gender-Based Violence

Event Report

Tanu Paliwal

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 Violence, a One-Month Immersive Online Law and Public Policy Awareness Certificate Training Course and Internship Program from November 25 – December 23, 2023.

The chair of the program was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Distinguished Professor, IMPRI

Convenors of the program were Dr Arjun Kumar Director, IMPRI and Dr Simi Mehta, CEO & Editorial Director, IMPRI

Day 1 : The Impact of Law Reform on Gender Rights

The first session by Dr. Flavia Agnes, through a compelling exploration, significantly elevated the discourse on gender rights. Tracing its historical roots to the 1980 anti-rape movement, she highlighted the transformative role of law in advancing gender justice. The conversation navigated through pivotal changes in criminal law, emphasizing the persistent efforts of the women’s movement for legal reforms, shaping the dynamic evolution of the legal landscape and underlining the ongoing struggle for gender equality.

The thematic focus extended to critical issues like dowry violence, rape, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Dr. Agnes stressed the essential link between robust legal frameworks and societal attitudes, advocating for ongoing reforms to effectively combat violence against women. Addressing the historical context of gender-related laws, she underscored the intersectionality of gender rights with caste, class, and religion, emphasizing the need for comprehensive legal frameworks.

Acknowledging challenges in the existing legal landscape, the discussion candidly addressed issues such as slow implementation and the imperative for continued advocacy. The engaging Q&A segment brought forth diverse perspectives, enriching the discourse.

Dr. Agnes further explored the contentious issue of whether sex work is a choice, highlighting its debatable nature and calling for a paradigm shift in the judiciary’s attitude. The session concluded with a forward-looking discussion on potential future directions for gender rights and legal reforms, emphasizing active engagement and fostering a more inclusive legal landscape. The session report encapsulates a comprehensive exploration of the multifaceted dimensions of law reform’s impact on gender rights, with Dr. Agnes illuminating the historical context, contemporary challenges, and the path forward in the ongoing quest for gender justice.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Professor Vibhuti Patel, began the session with insightful introductory remarks on the historical evolution of the Women’s Movement in India. Her comprehensive exploration unfolded as a journey through women’s struggles, emphasizing pivotal achievements and addressing the persistent emergency of gender-based violence. Professor Patel illuminated the complex interplay between global conflicts, gender-based violence, and the urgent need for international cooperation.

The session delved into the alarming prevalence of violence against women, citing examples from global conflicts and emphasizing the need for robust support structures dedicated to gender justice. Professor Patel highlighted the interconnectedness of traditional wars with women’s bodies, emphasizing the prevalent violence in conflict zones like Ukraine and Russia or regions like Israel and Palestine.

Taking a historical perspective, the discussion traced the early struggles of the International Feminist Movement in the 1970s, illustrating the transformative impact of women’s activism on societal attitudes. Professor Patel seamlessly connected past struggles with current challenges, emphasizing the multifaceted approach of the women’s movement in challenging systemic inequalities. The session concluded by lauding her expertise and engaging presentation style, serving as a catalyst for continued dialogue and advocacy in the ongoing pursuit of gender equality.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 2 : Human Rights in India

Dr. Albertina Almeida’s session navigated the intricate landscape of human rights in India, emphasizing constitutional guarantees and international commitments. It commenced by addressing the multifaceted nature of human identity, where violations often arise from the intersectionality of gender, class, caste, ethnicity, and sexuality. Concrete examples illustrated class-based violence, particularly in trafficking and prostitution, exposing the state’s inadequate framework to curb these issues.

The discourse extended to the gender-caste-ethnicity nexus, unraveling its role in crimes and discrimination. Dr. Almeida delved into legal complexities, exploring conflicts between the Uniform Civil Code and Diversity of Family Laws, highlighting the need for a harmonized legal framework. The session navigated the tensions between Globalization and Nationalism, urging a balanced perspective, and challenged participants to contemplate human rights through a broader lens. Dr. Almeida underscored the imperative to comprehend human rights in the Indian context, fostering a critical mindset and advocating for a more inclusive approach to address diverse populations’ challenges.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Guided by Prof. Shalu Nigam, the hands-on session on human rights delved profoundly into gender-based violence. Beginning with a meticulous definition of consent, the session navigated India’s legal history, uncovering pivotal milestones shaping the discourse. Examining colonial-era perspectives, landmark cases like the Mathura Rape Case were highlighted, exposing flaws in judicial approaches and emphasizing the need for nuanced consent understanding. The Vishakha Guidelines, rooted in workplace harassment, catalyzed broader discussions.

The narrative climaxed with the Nirbhaya Rape Case, leading to legislative reforms in The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018. Prof. Nigam demystified legal intricacies, emphasizing the evolving law in response to societal shifts. Key aspects included the role of POCSO in protecting minors and Sections 166 A and B, ensuring systemic accountability. Prof. Shalu Nigam’s session equipped participants with a nuanced understanding of the legal landscape surrounding gender-based violence, fostering heightened awareness for contributing to a more just and equitable society.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Professor Ceena Paul concluded the day with an intellectually invigorating session by guiding participants through the art and science of crafting a research article. Starting with discerning assignment requirements, participants learned to choose relevant, interesting research topics aligned with academic expectations. Professor Paul emphasized originality in formulating research questions and the importance of extensive literature research.

The session covered essential components of a research paper, including introduction, method, results, discussion, and conclusion. Practical aspects like citing sources, document revision, and audience tailoring were highlighted. By integrating theoretical understanding with practical skills, participants gained tools to navigate academic writing and a deeper appreciation for the interconnected realms of law, policy, and human rights. In conclusion, Day 2 proved instrumental in educating participants on human rights history, legal frameworks, and writing research papers systematically.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 3 : Gender Based Violence

On Day 3 of the Program, Dr. Keerthi Bollineni addressed the profound issue of ending gender-based violence in India. The session highlighted the complex challenges and prevalent issues ingrained in Indian society.

The deeply rooted patriarchal culture in India perpetuates gender inequalities, condoning or trivializing violence against women. Challenges include legal loopholes, inconsistent enforcement, and societal stigma, deterring victims from reporting incidents. Limited access to justice, especially in rural areas, due to factors like lack of awareness and infrastructure, poses a significant barrier. Dr. Keerthi stressed the importance of economic empowerment through education and employment opportunities to reduce vulnerability to violence.

Modern challenges, including technology-facilitated violence and intersectionality, were discussed. The rise of technology brings forth issues like cyberbullying, requiring updated legal frameworks. Intersectionality recognizes unique challenges faced by various groups based on caste, class, religion, and sexual orientation.

The way forward involves legal frameworks recognizing the intersectional nature of gender-based violence, inclusive laws responsive to diverse experiences, and improved data collection for targeted policies. Dr. Keerthi emphasized a coordinated effort from government, civil society, and the community to change cultural norms, strengthen legal frameworks, and foster a supportive environment for survivors, promoting a society intolerant of gender-based violence.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam led an insightful session on Dowry Violence, emphasizing the need for a socio-cultural transformation. Presenting cases from Kerala, Mumbai, and Lucknow, she highlighted the escalating menace of dowry-related violence, urging society to rethink the traditional ritual. Citing NCRB data of 2022, which reported over 2 lakh cases, she called for awareness, emphasizing practicality over blind adherence to rituals.

From a human rights perspective, Dr. Nigam outlined measures to counter dowry violence. These included strengthening anti-dowry laws, integrating education programs, establishing support services, and engaging men to challenge gender roles. Emphasizing each measure, she encouraged participants to champion change.

Countering dowry violence requires a comprehensive approach involving legal, educational, and societal efforts. It necessitates transforming societal attitudes, enforcing legal measures, educating communities, and fostering support services. Dr. Nigam’s session underscored the importance of a holistic strategy to create a culture intolerant of abuse, promoting a society where individuals can live free from the scourge of dowry-related violence.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 4 : International Human Rights Day

The session on Human Rights Day, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), featured Dr. Vahida Nainar’s insightful lecture on the complexity of universality in human rights. Dr. Nainar navigated through the philosophical foundations, global challenges, and implications associated with the concept of universality.

Highlighting the pivotal nature of universality, Dr. Nainar explained that human rights are deemed universal because they are grounded in the inherent dignity of all individuals, transcending backgrounds. Despite this, challenges persist, with some arguing that human rights are theoretical rather than practical, and others asserting that they are a luxury for developing nations.

The implications of these challenges were explored, ranging from the acceptance of inequality as justifiable in certain societies to the prioritization of cultural or religious values over inherent rights. Examining the Indian context, Dr. Nainar noted the existing gaps between constitutional ideals and reality, particularly regarding caste-based and gender-based discrimination.

The session concluded by emphasizing the necessity of bridging the divide between theoretical ideals and real-world practices for the true universality of human rights. Dr. Vahida Nainar’s presentation prompted reflection on the ethical imperative of upholding these rights universally.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The session by Dr Aqsa Shaikh initiated by delineating the diverse spectrum within LGBTQIA+ and then explored significant global milestones for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) rights, including the Yogyakarta Principles and UN resolutions. In India, landmark developments such as the NALSA judgment and the striking down of Section 377 were highlighted, along with the Transgender Persons Act’s limitations.

The lack of explicit legal bans on conversion therapy and the narrow focus of the NHRC advisory on transgender rights were noted as challenges. Barriers to equality, including restrictions on same-sex marriage and limited access to adoption and medical services, were outlined. The impact on individuals, such as discrimination, bullying, mental health challenges, and limited life opportunities, was emphasized.

The session concluded with a call to recognize, understand, and actively address LGBTQIA+ inequalities in India, urging collective efforts toward a more just and equitable society.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

The session by Prof Shalu Nigam extensively explored the pressing issue of how impoverished and underprivileged individuals are treated, focusing on their fundamental rights. It began by emphasizing SDG 1’s goal of eradicating poverty, underscoring India’s persistent challenge with approximately 6 million people living below the poverty line. Notably, women are identified as more vulnerable, with 21% of Indians living on less than $1.9 per day. India’s poor Global Hunger Index ranking and reports from UNDP and Oxfam further highlighted inequalities, with a 2023 study revealing food insecurity for around 10% of Indians.

The discussion delved into a crucial PUCL case addressing the paradox of FCI godowns overflowing while rotational starvation affected people in drought-hit Rajasthan. This prompted a focus on key food security programs, including PDS, ICDS, and the enactment of NFSA in 2013. While NFSA aimed to transform existing programs into legal entitlements, challenges included Aadhar-linked PDS and a perceived lack of nutritional focus.

Shifting to solutions, the session advocated a human rights perspective, emphasizing welfare state roles and various fundamental rights and directive principles. Programs like NREGA were identified as avenues to address poverty, inequality, and starvation. The session concluded by posing critical questions about resource allocation, state duties, and the need to declare food, shelter, and health as fundamental rights in the Indian constitution, urging a shift in political debates toward human development and combating poverty and inequality.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 5 : Addressing Gender-Based Violence

On Day 5, ElsaMarie D’Silva delivered a compelling presentation on Gender-based Violence (GBV) and introduced the innovative Safe City platform. Drawing from her personal experiences, ElsaMarie shared the triggering moment of the Delhi gang rape incident, leading her to confront suppressed encounters with GBV. Recognizing a significant data gap, she emphasized the multifaceted nature of GBV, encompassing physical, verbal, and technological dimensions.

ElsaMarie shed light on technology-facilitated GBV and highlighted the normalization of violence, challenging societal acceptance. Addressing GBV’s broader context within patriarchal structures, she referred to alarming statistics on gender disparities in India. The birth of Safe City, a global crowd-mapping platform, aimed to bridge the data gap, raise awareness, and empower communities. ElsaMarie illustrated Safe City’s impact through case studies, emphasizing community-driven changes and youth empowerment against GBV. The presentation urged a collective effort to combat GBV and create safer spaces globally.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Adv. Dr. Shalu Nigam delivered a presentation on Gender-Based Violence (GBV), focusing on the intricate gender dynamics within Indian courtrooms. Dr. Nigam highlighted the challenges women face in seeking justice, discussed recent initiatives like the Supreme Court’s handbook combating gender stereotypes, and emphasized the need for holistic approaches to eliminate gender biases in the legal system.

Acknowledging the significant role of the Indian women’s movement in addressing GBV through lawmaking, Dr. Nigam introduced the Supreme Court’s handbook, emphasizing its focus on reshaping language to combat gender biases within courtrooms. She provided examples of proposed language changes to challenge stereotypes and foster inclusivity.

The presentation addressed underrepresentation of women in the judiciary and the challenges women encounter in the legal profession. Dr. Nigam emphasized the importance of systemic reforms, increased awareness, and inclusivity to create a more equitable legal environment for women. She illustrated nuanced gender dynamics within courtrooms through specific legal cases, highlighting the complex interplay of societal norms and legal judgments.

While recognizing positive legal developments, Dr. Nigam stressed the need for comprehensive reforms beyond linguistic changes, demanding urgent attention to systemic issues. Her presentation underscored the imperative for a holistic approach to transform gender dynamics within Indian courtrooms.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Day 6 : Valedictory Session

Professor Vina Vaswani’s distinguished address emphasized the enduring importance of meticulous documentation for continuous learning and professional growth. Sharing her journey as the first female forensic medicine practitioner in Karnataka, Professor Vaswani discussed the historical lacuna in recognizing women’s rights and the marginalized transgender community.

Transitioning to the cohort, she commended its success, attributing it to the diverse participants. Professor Vaswani passionately advocated for lifelong learning, envisioning the cohort’s potential to establish best-practice guidelines. Discussing forensic medicine challenges, she highlighted flaws in addressing injuries from domestic violence, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach. Sharing experiences of bias within the police force, she championed foreseeability in the legal system and discussed the pitfalls of social media.

Concluding with a call for introspection and action, Professor Vaswani urged participants to contribute to advancing human rights, particularly for women and girls. Her insightful presentation explored biases in forensic medicine and the legal system, emphasizing the role of education and awareness in reshaping societal norms.

To read a more elaborate session report: Click here

Acknowledgment: This event report is written by Tanu Paliwal

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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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