Friday, November 11, 2022
Shalu Nigam, Different Facets of Feminist Lawyering in India
Much is being written about feminist lawyering in the West, but what is the purpose of feminist lawyering in the patriarchal context in third-world nations? While reflecting on case laws and activism in India, this essay argues that feminist lawyering in a profoundly hierarchical society is a much broader concept than that of traditional lawyering where a lawyer works not to `win the case’ but aims at the larger goals of eliminating inequalities, eradicating oppression, challenging sexist stereotypes, abolishing fascism and addressing conditions that perpetuate domination. In a society, where citizenship rights are denied to specific groups based on social parameters such as gender, race, caste, class or religion, feminist lawyering in such a context has to be understood broadly as a practice that supports those on the margins while holding the state accountable. It is about questioning the androcentric norms within and outside the courtrooms, asking the law, courts and society to be sensitive about gender concerns and to recognize and enforce the citizenship rights of half of humanity. This essay concludes that the purpose of feminist lawyering is to negotiate and contest the rights at various levels where feminist lawyers strive to transform the androcentric law and the layered, hierarchical society with the aim to enforce constitutional provisions of equality, liberty and social justice in reality.