Vrinda Grover: A tireless advocate for women’s rights
Aamir Khan and P Chidambaram may seem like unlikely company for a human rights lawyer. But 49-year-old Vrinda Grover finds herself in their midst, having made it to Time Magazine’s recently released list of 100 Most Influential People for 2013. The Bollywood actor, the Finance Minister and the advocate-activist are the three Indians on the list.
The magazine’s profile of her says: “Vrinda Grover’s work as a human-rights lawyer and advocate for women’s rights has meant that she presses down pretty hard. Justice, she believes, must reach everyone — not just privileged Indians on the top rungs but those in insurgency-torn areas, those unjustly tortured, jailed or executed, those who slip through the many cracks in the system.
“Her determination to force an often recalcitrant political and legal system to change was evident in these past few heated months, as a particularly tragic rape in Delhi brought women’s rights center stage. In the conservative backlash that followed the waves of women’s protests, Grover’s voice — loud, uncompromising — was raised again and again in the rambunctious theater of Indian TV. Justice and equality, however distant, are the goal; she is there to remind politicians that nothing less will do.”
Vrinda studied law at Delhi University and NYU School of Law and is now a lawyer in the Delhi High Court. She is the Executive Director of MARG, New Delhi, and serves as a trustee at the Centre for Social Justice, the socio-legal NGO whose focus areas include women’s rights.
Vrinda is known for being a tireless advocate for reform in India’s rape laws and is one of those who pushed hard for the implementation of Justice Verma’s recommendations in a law against sexual violence, firm in her stance against an ordinance that would be mere eyewash. She continues to believe that more needs to be done to safeguard women and speaks her mind on various platforms and across media.
Vrinda has constantly maintained that the law should strengthen our rights and freedoms and not become an instrument of social control and moral policing. “But political parties that tear up the women’s reservation bill, and field men accused of rape in elections are hardly likely to understand the importance of gender sensitivity,” she has said.
An independent expert with the Working Group on Human Rights,Vrinda also works in other areas of human rights violations, besides gender issues. She has done seminal work on anti-Sikh riots cases early in her career. In 2010, she was part of an independent fact-finding team that went to the Kashmir valley to inquire into the causes for the unconscionably large number of deaths that occurred there.
Her perseverance is commendable, given the frequently unrelenting nature of the system. Still, she battles on, holding out hope for scores of women who need a voice.
Which of these activists do you think makes the most impact in the realm of women’s rights?
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- Mallika Sarabhai
- Vrinda Grover
- Brinda Karat
- Urvashi Butalia
- 82 %Kiran Bedi