Breaking all the socio-economic and cultural barriers, when I entered the legal profession, I was so delighted. I assumed that this would be the best start of my life in the “Noble Profession” as a “Lawyer” and people will not have any inhibition or prejudices. However, during the practice, I witnessed several incidents of discrimination and also experienced some, myself as a scheduled caste female lawyer.
It is so despicable when some privileged and so-called liberal professionals say 'everything is fine' and that there are no prejudices or bias in this new era of modernization If they feel that all of us enjoy the same independence and have equal rights, they need to understand the definition of this discrimination, as they have never faced it.
Most of us are aware of the kinds of human rights violations that exist in India. Like women’s rights violation, child rights violation and exploitation of labourers, etc. Directly or indirectly if we look at this carefully, one question that surfaces is, who are the ones that get exploited? The people who are vulnerable. Who are vulnerable? The people who are not educated enough and are made to believe that the work they do is made for them and they are made for it. And they don’t even know this is the violation of their so-called human rights.
The people who know what human right is and what the violation of human rights is are those who are actually violating them. And isn’t it easier for the violator to recognize their own actions as being violative of the human rights?
So naturally, the people who first recognized or realized the term ‘human rights’ and ‘violation of human rights’ came from the socially and economically upper-class background as is an established fact because of their privileges.
The lawyers may also be counted as one of the privileged. They are aware of human rights and violation of it because they also belong to the same community and they are the ones who claim that they are helping people get justice.
We have human rights lawyers who claim that they are actually protecting rights of the human beings. This makes us think that human rights lawyers are different from other lawyers. But is it true? unfortunately, no because they are the ones who first induced the violations of human rights. This can be seen as the reason why the so-called leading human rights lawyers are from the upper class.
I remember it was at an Asian lawyers conference in Delhi where one of the lawyers belonging to an upper class and working as a human rights lawyer in a reputed human rights organization, asked in front of 500 people, “who will then clean the toilets and do the sweeping work in their houses?”. It wasn’t a foolish or juvenile question. It was a completely genuine question. He was working for a reputed human rights organization as a human rights lawyer, simultaneously we cannot forget that he is also from the socially and economically upper class background and has prejudices for his backward class clients and undoubtedly his backward class colleagues. After this terrible incident what would one expect from the human rights organization? Fire him or to keep and feed him for another four years and whenever he wanted, he could leave? If you claim to be a true human rights lawyer then what you would have done?
There are several other instances.
The sociocultural biases and discriminatory attitudes of the human rights lawyers can be readily identified through their practice of treating women and backward class colleagues unequally. Despite being more competent, opportunities are not given to them by so-called senior human right lawyer. Why? Because it is the requirement of so called human rights lawyer to have sharp and fluent in English speaking juniors, so their juniors are also from the privileged class background. Not just juniors, all interns are from the same class because they have enough means to apply for it. Despite not even knowing the meaning of PIL (), an intern studying in a national law college, says “You know what? Our teacher never teaches us properly.” Still, those interns get opportunities because they have references from some senior human rights lawyers and are from a privileged background.
I wonder, time and again, why is it that we do not have lawyers belonging to those communities whose rights are actually being violated? It’s been a while since we have been working and trying to protect human rights, still, we don't have enough human rights lawyers representing the class whose rights are getting violated.
Doesn't this clearly show the bias of the human rights lawyers towards their contemporaries who belong to the backward class? Have you ever thought about them? Is it their fault that they were born and brought up in such an atmosphere wherein they did not get the opportunity to study in a convent school and could not speak fluent English? And because they cannot speak fluent English they are not competent to be a junior of a so-called senior human rights lawyer or cannot do an internship under them? Then what is the meaning of calling yourself a human rights lawyer and fighting cases in the court just to make paper records? If we are fighting for human rights of the people but not for their empowerment, then what is the point of doing the so-called charity work for fame?
After this strong approach, it is very obvious many questions will arise, like; who is prohibiting them from being human rights lawyers and from getting those opportunities? So many other questions are now in your mind. I am not going to answer your question people. I want you to think about it.
Review may be sent of [email protected]il.com.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick