What is the alternatives approaches?
We are all activists and organisations who have been working to change the world. It might vary, but most of us, in some point in our lives, have encountered laws. Some of us have worked to create new laws, some of us have worked to make laws stronger. But laws have always been an important part of our understanding of democracy.
Last 2 years, Post Covid, a lot of our work, has been about sustaining our communities, sustaining them emotionally, sustaining their community efforts, sustaining the small institutions we all had created to ensure we last this horrible virus. And passing new laws did not help us.
We always knew law was limiting, and we needed more than just laws.
We knew that governments had to make its public health system stronger and we needed a robust education system. We knew all of this. But we all focussed on our energy thinking if we have stronger laws, everything would be all right.
For last 3 years we have been working with RESURJ on beyond criminalisation approach, and really looking at whether this punitive method of justice, has it worked or not. This work has been rooted in South Asia, Latin America and Middle East. This has been based on laws, and stories from communities. We have been framing our work around sexual and reproductive justice framework.
So one of the biggest findings has been law ( especially the punitive approach of it) has been limiting. Especially in our work around sexual and reproductive health and access for women, trans folks and adolescents, we have realised law alone has not been enough. It has a protectionist approach, which puts far too many gatekeepers before we access anything.
Giving an example from our work in India, India at present is celebrating 50 years of MTP Act, and still we have cases from cities in India, where young people dont know about these laws. They all think it is illegal . Harassment by doctors, lawyers, gatekeepers. Cos we still have a law which Is from doctor’s perspective. Also looking at reproductive health only from a legal perspective, instead of care and justice perspective.
Where is the community voice in this approach? Can law respond to the needs of the communities it services? Or does community has an answer that we are not listeining
This is where, our alternatives work, by RESURJ and Hidden Pockets Collective comes in. To acknowledge this kind of violence, to acknowledge the injustice, and to look for methods which are beyond crimialization.
What exactly we do in this?
a) Re-thinking education We focus on education which is more accessible. Our work with radio and podcasts help us reach communities who dont know how to read texts.
b) Restorative Justice work : We focus on work around healing. We have been trying to incorporate idea of healing and justice in our work, and how do we make a space for people to heal.
c) Digital Media in local languages: We are making more and more educational material for people in their local languages ( Hindi, Kannada, and Malayalam) so that education goes beyond English.
d) Indian social Media Platforms : We are using technology that women and girls are using, and creating content with them.
e) We are continuing with our workshops models where we dont preach to communities, we use song and dance to teach them.