By Jyothi PM:
Today’s children are tomorrow’s future.
This central idea, combined with my interest in women’s empowerment and children’s rights was the starting point of my career. I’d originally enrolled for a B.Tech course. If all had gone as planned, I’d have been an engineer working with a big company by now. But my life took an unexpected course sometime in the middle of my training.
Growing up, I had observed with increasing concern the atrocities and injustice that women and children in our society face. I realised that this issue particularly prevailed because the people – at the receiving end of so much injustice – did not even know of the existence of laws that could protect them!
The one incident I would like to share is when I got to know about a survivor of domestic violence through a friend of mine and I decided to attend the case. I got a chance to interact with her in a meeting conducted by Kudumbasree and an awareness class was given to the women of some wards in the locality on laws relating to women and crimes against women and children. After the session, she opened up about her experience, after being assured of confidentiality.
Later, counselling was conducted, and the case was referred to The Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) and human rights law networks. They conducted an enquiry and decided to shift the survivor to a shelter home. Right now, she lives in her own household without any abuse or fear. If we had not reached her, she may still be living in those terrifying conditions.
It was instances like these and my particular interest in the area that led me to quit the B.Tech course in the middle and opt for law. Switching was a tough decision for me, I faced some challenges as well. But, my motivation to work for atrocities against women and children was one of the main reasons to stick to my decision.
Even today, I don’t know exactly when it was that I decided to be a changemaker. I only knew I wanted to work towards a better future for society.
I started my work by creating more awareness about the law and the rights of underprivileged people that they weren’t aware of. I formed a group of fellow students and colleagues in my college to achieve this and reach the needy. We held talks with students, as well as parents, regarding child abuse, the laws in place and how they could avoid certain situations. Initially, it was tough to convince young minds towards the projected goal. Yet, there were students who cooperated unconditionally for a better cause. Such youth constitute the future of India.
We faced several hurdles on the way. The key challenge was – as it always is – that people are after their money and their own business. No one is interested in sparing time to know about their rights and the laws that directly concern them (there are exceptions, of course, but the majority turn a deaf ear). Even with such a vibrant youth population in our country, it is evident that we fail to cherish them. In a democracy, it is essential that people know about their fundamental rights and principles that underlie their lives, after all!
My interest in law and my perspectives on shifting this trend helped me mitigate this. I was able to catch up on the various alternatives available in reaching these people and learn about the eminent personalities in the field. I even collaborated with the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) as a volunteer to get better understating in the area of my work. I have referred cases of Lok Adalat sessions for counselling and mediations. These are the main alternatives which NALSA provides to our citizens.
During this time, I also had the chance to be a part of the National Youth Parliament in the year 2018. It was a really great experience and widened my views on issues from a state level to a national level. Meeting the other UN Volunteers and the experience of speaking to them, interacting with them and coming to collective solutions on different issues were a great learning experience.
The stories and memories I’ve collected over this year have taught me one crucial lesson: if you want to be a changemaker, you need to do it with all your heart; regardless of how big or small the issue is. It has taught me to stand strong and hold my perspectives dearly, and create a signature for myself, without bothering about the challenges that come my way. If you are willing, you can create wonders.
About the author: Jyothi is perusing a career in Law and works voluntarily on issues related to violence against women in state of Kerala. Jyothi dreams of creating a peaceful and equal society through her work and bring justice for the underprivileged.