India: Sexual Violence, Victim Blaming, and Access to Justice

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 @ 12:10pm to 1:10pm
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 105
Mar 07
Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 @ 12:10pm to 1:10pm
Jerome Greene Hall, Room 105

India: Sexual Violence, Victim Blaming, and Access to Justice
A Lunchtime Talk with Jayshree Bajoria, Human Rights Watch
Moderated by Menaka Guruswamy, Columbia Law School
Columbia Law School | Jerome Greene Hall | 435 West 116th Street
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
12:10 pm - 1:10 pm

RSVP Recommended via Eventbrite
Lunch will be provided

Public protests in India after the December 2012 fatal gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey, a student in Delhi, spurred important legal and other reforms. This has been accompanied by numerous public campaigns, including on social media, most of them led by Indian women and civil society challenging patriarchal norms and calling for change. The MeToo movement found thousands of voices echoing similar stories in India. While many more girls and women have been willing to speak out and report sexual violence in India, defying stigma to break the culture of silence, promised changes are still falling far short of being realized. Rape survivors in the country face significant barriers to justice and critical support services such as health care, counseling, and legal aid. Jayshree Bajoria, author of a new Human Rights Watch report “Everyone Blames Me” has documented the humiliating treatment women and girls who survive rape and other sexual violence still too often suffer at police stations and hospitals. Medical professionals still compel degrading “two-finger” tests to make characterizations about whether the victim was “habituated to sex.” The system to provide compensation is often inefficient and survivors wait a long time or are unable to access the scheme. The talk will focus on such persistent gaps in enforcing the laws and relevant policies, and discuss some measures to ensure that the criminal justice system treats the victims and their families with sensitivity, dignity, and without discrimination.

This event is co-supported by the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, the Center for the Study of Law and Culture, The Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School, the Ambedkar Research Chair at Columbia Law School, and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University in the City of New York.

This event is free and open to the public. A non-pizza lunch will be served.

If you have any questions regarding this event, please contact Liz Boylan, Associate Director for the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at or 212.854.0167.

Speaker Bios:

Jayshree Bajoria 

Jayshree Bajoria is a senior research consultant for Human Rights Watch. She has worked on several issues in India including the right to education, freedom of expression and assembly, discrimination against marginalized communities, police abuse, and access to justice.

Bajoria previously worked as a writer and deputy editor at, the website of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Her work at CFR won an Emmy Award in 2011 in the category New Approaches to News and Documentary Programming, and two Overseas Press Club awards. She was a 2014 fellow at Asia Society’s India-Pakistan Regional Young Leaders forum. Bajoria has also worked as a reporter for BBC, Star News television, and the Indian Express newspaper in Mumbai, India. She has a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University in New York. 

Dr. Menaka Guruswamy 

Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is BR Ambedkar Research Scholar and Lecturer at Columbia Law School. She also practices law before the Supreme Court of India.

Dr. Guruswamy has practiced law in New York, as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell. She has advised the United Nations Development Fund, New York, and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), New York and UNICEF South Sudan on various aspects of International Human Rights Law and has also supported the constitution-making process in Nepal.

In her litigation practice in India, she focusses on large constitutional rights claims, and has successfully brought reform of the bureaucracy in the country, defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children, challenged colonial-era laws that criminalise consensual same-sex relations. She is amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in a case concerning 1528 alleged extra-judicial killings by the military and security personnel.

Dr. Guruswamy studied law as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University where she was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Law (D. Phil.) and as a Gammon fellow for a Masters in Law at Harvard Law School. She has been Visiting Faculty at Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, and New York University School of Law. Most recently, she was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin for 2016-2017.

Her most recent publications include essays on Constitution-Making in South Asia, in Handbook on Comparative Constitutional Law (Edward Elgar, Forthcoming (2018) and ‘Crafting Constitutional Values: An Essay on the Supreme Court of India’, (An Inquiry into the Existence Of Global Values, Hart Publishing/Bloomsbury: (2015). She has written widely for newspapers including the New York Times, the Indian Express and is currently working on a book on South Asian Constitutionalism. She is also a columnist for the blog of the  International Journal of Constitutional Law.

Contact Info: 
For questions or inquiries about this event, contact Liz Boylan, Associate Director for the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School, at 212.854.0167 or
Event RSVP: 

This event is free and open to the public. A non-pizza lunch will be served. RSVP is recommended via Eventbrite: