Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions

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On 27th March 2022, One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Feminist Justice and Trauma-Informed Support in Institutions’ hosted by Shreya, Senior Program Officer at One Future Collective. She was joined by Ashita, a lawyer pursuing her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School, and Disha, an activist and social researcher. The conversation revolved around the significance of trauma-informed support at individual and institutional levels and identifying how institutions can be systems of care and practice feminist justice. 

The conversation started with the question of what feminist justice or trauma-informed care means and how they can be linked together. Ashita opened the discussion with her definition of feminist justice. She mentioned how the state and the justice system functions according to the male point of view in its structure and design. She emphasised how feminist justice would dismantle these structures and create new ones that lead to an equal, fair balance of power within society and institutions. Such an institution would not judge or put unfair blame, and the system would be aware that the actions of survivors are affected by their trauma and the psychosocial or physical effects of trauma. The justice delivery system also needed to teach a survivor-centric approach and give survivors power and agency to make their own decisions and put them at the center of our understanding. For instance, they should not be forced to face their perpetrator. Ashita also critiqued how the Indian justice system was only carceral, which survivors had to either opt in or opt-out of without any alternatives. Disha added that feminist justice would recognize how survivors needed a sensitive, trauma-informed, and positive approach. Disha looked at trauma-informed care from a service framework that would allow the survivor to heal in a sensitive cultural framework. It is also essential to develop a holistic understanding of what trauma means, including institutional discrimination and unfair hierarchy. 

Since there has been a rise in a systematic approach to addressing trauma and vicarious trauma, Shreya asked if we see this change in India and how we can explore it further. Ashita mentioned how we had come a long way since trauma-informed conversations have started in various institutions and legal and medical professions. Different judgments have noted how the state and criminal justice system must create a guideline for interacting with survivors, providing mental health support and covering medical expenses. The MHRD has also released guidelines that explain how trauma can affect survivors and how survivors should not be asked about their previous sexual history. While these resources exist, their implementation differs from state to state; it depends on the training of the police and judicial officers, and there is no uniformity across the board. She mentioned how institutions also had to be trauma-informed to provide relief to survivors along with sensitive lawyers. 

Shreya pointed out how the current system or the policies in institutions may end up in retraumatization of a person or a collective group as they reinforce unequal power dynamics or fail to ensure their safety and the kind of alternatives to rework the system. Disha spoke of how survivors have to narrate their trauma repeatedly in an environment that is not safe, sensitive, or supportive. There is also a tendency to focus on physical harm, while financial or emotional abuse are mostly neglected. The ‘innocent until proven guilty’ approach also hinders survivors from asking for positive assistance, and people don’t support them until a verdict is given. Disha mentioned how One Future Collective’s knowledge course for lawyers who work with survivors was also important. 

Next, Shreya read out a small part from OFC’s resource on trauma-informed support and care. The paragraph was about the need for legal professionals or doctors to be trauma-informed to be inclusive, transparent, and sensitive to survivors. The paragraph also noted how the term ‘institutional trauma’ was used for structural oppression. However, such a term often made trauma an individual experience and neglected its sociopolitical contexts. Ashita questioned why we look at trauma from an individualist perspective in the first place. She mentioned how institutions could avoid responsibility for their discriminatory actions and structures by not confronting the trauma they have caused to marginalized communities. A sociopolitical understanding was essential to recognize and dismantle these structures and hold them accountable. 

The conversation then turned to how policymakers play a part in ensuring trauma-informed institutions. Ashita mentioned how creating compassionate policies is vital for creating trauma-informed institutions, and the policymakers themselves need to understand the approach. Disha pointed out the need for cross-sector collaboration to facilitate sustainable change and provide funding. Ashita also mentioned that neutral policies were hardly ever survivor-sensitive and were designed to fail since they are applied to non-neutral societies. Thus, the institutions themselves must be cognizant of the institutional trauma and inculcate a sensitive and supportive design.

 

You can watch the full video here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CbnCieZuDsF/

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Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society

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On 24th March 2022, One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Human Rights and the Role of Civil Society,’ moderated by Shefali from India Education Collective. She was joined by Lisa Majumdar, a part of Civicus, Megha, a researcher, and Vihaan, a senior campaign associate at Haiyya. The conversation provides unique insights into how human rights in India are increasingly under threat and civil society’s role in protecting them. 

The conversation started with the proposal to implement a state-wide legal framework to ensure journalists’ safety across the nation. Megha pointed out that the freedom of the press in India is threatened, and journalists often face violence from the state and the police. She noticed how journalists who did not condone the government openly were the safest; otherwise, they faced state-sanctioned violence. She noted how it was essential to look at the Civil Protection Act and the ethics of the IT rules and guidelines. Lisa added that the state should and needs to protect its journalists and have clear policies to ensure that all data remains encrypted. 

The conversation then turned to how the Covid-19 pandemic saw an interaction between technology and civil society and how that should be acknowledged using the framework of human rights. Vihaan talked about the challenges that Haiiya faced and their learnings while helping DBA and trans or queer youth during the pandemic. Vihaan mentioned how the young people were not just affected at the individual level but also collectively, as their right to life and access to shelter and food was hampered. People could not move out of their houses, labourers could not return to their homes, and sex workers also stopped earning. It was the state’s responsibility to protect people’s rights and care for their needs during such times.

However, it failed to provide for its citizens adequately, so civil society had to step in. The social welfare schemes launched by the state were not sufficient and inaccessible to most people it targeted due to lack of documentation. Vihaan further mentioned that while Haiyya does not generally provide needs-based services, it felt the need to intervene in domestic violence or abuse cases. Young women and transpeople’s sexual rights and health rights were specifically affected, as transpeople could not access hormones that were gender-affirming and life-saving.

The conversation then turned to how the state has suspended the FCRA license of many voluntary organizations and NGOs and how these organizations can move forward and cope in such a situation. Lisa spoke of the crucial nature of foreign funding and global operations management in such a case and the need for these organizations to maintain a functioning democracy. Megha also emphasized the importance of awareness-raising while challenging the positive image that the government maintains on a global level instead of providing state support. The civil society also took up collective responsibility and provided continuous support to challenge structural oppression, build awareness, and advocate for the rights of marginalized communities during the pandemic. 

Towards the end, Lisa talked about how Civicus uses quantitative data and qualitative reports, and information from around the world to prepare holistic reports about governments worldwide. Megha stressed the need for police reform as the police often perpetuated violence on behalf of the state and harassed civil society organizations or journalists. She pointed out how policing became harsher during civil society protests with UAPA and Section 144. Lisa concluded the discussion by stressing the need for a more fundamental change in society to strengthen the protection of human rights.

Watch the full Instagram Live here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CbfSyQtONSb/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= 

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Youth Rights and Leadership

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On the 24th of February, we at One Future Collective hosted an IG Live on ‘Youth Rights and Leadership’. With Deepa as the moderator, a former One Future Fellow and we were joined by Deepa Pawar, the founder of Anubhuti and Sukannyaa, a member of Pravah.

 

Deepa started by asking what the speakers’ definitions of youth rights were. Deepa Pawar takes the examples of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule who were young themselves when they started working on creating a change. This shows how important youth rights are in a country like India. We must all help in building a stronger bridge to connect the effort of the youth in taking part in the revolution and we must be inclusive in this effort. According to her, youth rights are no separate component of the values of India’s constitution. However, they do require more attention to the process and implementation. 

 

Sukannyaa believes the stage between adolescence and adulthood is a very important and eye-opening phase where one experiences many aspects of life like work, justice, and equality in a different light. Each person experiences unique challenges and difficulties in this journey. We must highlight these challenges and bring them into mainstream conversations.

 

Pravah does this on three levels: First is by changing the way we view the youth and avoiding stereotypes where we look down on them or view them through a tokenistic lens of pawns needed to create a better economy. This in turn avoids creating a barrier and empowers the youth. The second is by creating spaces for the youth to represent their communities when it comes to conversations around rights and equality and doing this through an intersectional perspective. The third is by questioning ourselves on how we can create safe environments for the youth to work and build on their strengths and meet people of different identities. 

 

Deepa then goes on to question how Anubhuti has made sure to address intersectionality in its efforts. Deepa Pawar highlights how there is a common misconception that the youth are not interested in politics in general. Engagement in politics must be created in educational institutions, but when these institutions shun students from understanding, critiquing, and participating in politics it creates a bad environment. These spaces must promote political literacy and not political hatred. Anubhuti works as a mirror to show the youth what they can do. The youth have their own lived experiences to reflect on and we try our best to question the root causes of these experiences. Fortunately, the marginalized communities of our country, be it nomadic tribes, the trans community, or working women are naturally equipped to understand the issues that all Anubhuti has to do as an organization, is to facilitate. Deepa reminisces about this process and says it’s been a two-way street. Anubhuti has learned just as much as it has taught while working with the young.

 

The statement ‘personal is political’ rings true to covering intersectionality. For instance, being a woman, you naturally are drawn to and affected by women’s rights. Anubhuti designs its approach underlining these specific identities as these identities dictate the strengths, challenges, and living situations of these individuals.

 

Deepa then goes on to ask Sukannyaa how Pravah has made efforts to create a safe environment for young people to grow. Sukannya addresses how Pravah tries to create these spaces without setting prior expectations that are often a burden and allows the youth to create and explore on their own. Our internship programs also see people from different parts of India such as Jammu and Kashmir and the south as well interacting among themselves. This not only is educative but also increases empathy for those different from us.

 

Deepa Pawar says that creating these spaces is not easy, especially in movements. Asking questions has become more and more dangerous over time. We are indoctrinated with the ideology that marginalized communities do not and should not be given the capacity to participate in political scenarios. Fighting such social biases is no easy feat. When speaking about these safe spaces, Deepa wishes to highlight the need for a support system to rescue the youth when they are caught in the realms of authority for standing up.

 

The panel concluded the talk by lending their idea of the concept ‘Young Feminist People Power’. Sukkannyaa believes this concept stretches itself to all forms of representation. Deepa Pawar then questions why we still don’t recognize the feminist movements native to India far before the movement was given a name in the west. Savitribai Phule and Fatima are perhaps the best examples of Young Feminist People Power narratives. She wishes for us to resurface these narratives, learn from the past experiences of the women that have helped create a change with integrity and create our own stories as we go on.

 

You can watch the full video here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CaXYZX9pnn2/

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Pride with OFC: Over the Years

Indigenous Climate Activist in India/South Asia

Indigenous Climate Activist in India / South Asia | Earth Day 2022