Lawyer Indira Jaising Has Been Fighting For Human Rights Causes For Years

by | September 21, 2021, 18:29 IST

For generations now, women have been working towards (read: fighting for) freedoms that have been the privilege of men in patriarchal societies. Some have faced flak, others have inched forward, but they have all persevered and, through their efforts, these freedoms become less elusive to so many Indian women. Femina celebrates these new freedom fighters and their ongoing trysts with destiny

On A Legal High
Noted for her legal activism in safeguarding human rights, the dynamic Indira Jaising has been fighting for different freedoms for women over the years

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Indira Jaising is an 81-year-old Indian lawyer, who is best known for actively fighting for and promoting human rights causes, mainly ones that deal with helping women achieve their rights and promote gender equality. Jaising’s glorious efforts and the steps taken towards the causes she has fought for have left a permanent mark on a countless number of individuals, who, if it had not been for her, would not have received justice.

Born in Mumbai six years before Partition, Jaising completed her schooling in the City of Dreams, before graduating with a Bachelors degree in arts from Bangalore University. In 1962, at the age of 22, she did her LLM from the University of Bombay.

Back in the ’60s, Jaising had to fight tooth and nail to establish herself as a female lawyer.

India was only newly independent when she started working as a lawyer, and this freedom did not translate to independence for women. Back in the ’60s, she had to fight tooth and nail to establish herself as a female lawyer.

After a lot of work convincing her parents, she went to London to complete a one-year fellowship with the Institute of International Legal Studies. While in London, she enthusiastically took part in protests and strikes that championed human rights. What she learned about activism in London would play a big part in the trajectory of her future life.

Jaising is married to Anand Grover, who, too, is a notable human rights lawyer, known for his activism related to homosexuality and HIV. With him, in 1981, she founded the Lawyers Collective, an NGO dedicated to support feminism and left-wing ideologies. Its main motive was to provide financially-underprivileged Indian citizens with legal funding. The Lawyers, a monthly magazine she founded in 1986, was devoted to spreading knowledge about social justice and women’s issues in a way that was contextual to Indian law.

Jaising was responsible for winning one of the first sexual harassment cases in the country. 

Although the Indian judicial system is known to be extremely sluggish in certain areas, Jaising never gave up on any of her cases, even when they stretched on for years. She was responsible for winning one of the first sexual harassment cases in the country for Rupan Deol Bajaj. Jaising also enabled Christian women to get a divorce on the grounds of cruelty or desertion, a right that they previously did not have. She also fought for the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and helped them receive compensation from the American MNC Union Carbide Corporation. Apart from this, she has also been a part of cases related to Muslim Personal Law, the rights of the homeless, child labour laws, domestic violence, and many more.

In 2005, Jaising received the Padma Shri for her services to the cause of public affairs. Four years later, she was appointed the Additional Solicitor General of India, becoming the first woman ever to achieve this position.

Also Read: Yearning To Learn: This 15YO Girl From UP Rows To School Amid Floods

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