Mar 5, 2013
11:00am - 12:00pm    |    Center for Human Rights and Global Justice , Wilf Hall, 139 MacDougal Street

LSHR /CHRGJ’s Human Rights Defenders Series Presents:

“Lessons from Thirty Years of Engagement with Reforming Sexual Assault Laws in India: A Discussion with Madhu Mehra”

Lunch will be served.

The discussion will draw upon the activism, debates and advocacy in relation to sexual violence in India, tracing the journey from the early 1980s to the contemporary moment. The discussion will trace developments and debates as they evolved over time – rooting them in specific contexts, to understand the influences that shaped the contours of universal sex crimes in India. This developments relate to custodial rape, consent, previous sexual history, corroboration, medical protocol, mass sexual crimes, graded sexual offences, and the emerging demands for reparative justice. The presentation seeks to explore the following questions:

1) whether a comprehensive model legislative framework for sexual violence is possible to formulate or available, or is this necessarily an evolving project.

2) To what extent are positions relating to gender neutrality and gender specificity of the offender and victim mediated by the legal, social, cultural contexts.

3) To what extent do the articulation of sexual rights bear upon the successful redress for sexual wrongs.

The discussion will touch upon these and other concerns that have been foregrounded in the recent debates, activism and advocacy for comprehensive reforms relating to sexual violence in India.

MADHU MEHRA – Executive Director, Partners for Law in Development

(PLD). For details, see and

Madhu Mehra is a lawyer, a founding member and Executive Director of Partners for Law in Development, a resource group on women’s rights in India. The organization facilitates assertion of women’s rights through creation of knowledge products, development of capacities, providing technical assistance and through advocacy. Her fields of expertise are: CEDAW and international human rights law; feminist legal perspectives relating to women’s rights in areas of family, culture, sexuality and violence against women. Over the last 20 years, her work has spanned contexts in India, South Asia and the Asia Pacific, in programming, training, research, and policy advocacy. She has engaged with the UN human rights system, through treaty body and special mechanisms, as well as the UPR; and notably, undertook research and drafting of the review of 15 years of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women (1994-2009). Her work on CEDAW and as a women’s rights expert is recognized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, through her appointments in expert committees set up from time to time.


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