National and Local

Gender-Based Violence in India

Following the December 2012 Delhi gang rape of a physiotherapy student that sparked protests across India, the South Asia Institute, the Harvard Law School, and the FXB Center – with Jacqueline Bhabha at the helm – jointly established the Harvard Gender Violence Project (GVP). The Project seeks to merge the knowledge of faculty, staff, and students at Harvard with the expertise of Indian colleagues already at work on this critical issue to identify causes as well as legal and policy solutions for ending this practice.

The GVP initiative was formally launched in Delhi in July 2013 where it convened leading human right activists, policymakers, and litigators at the “Gender Justice, Criminal Law, and Curricular Reforms Conference,” for a series of high-level discussions intended to jump-start the policy change needed to address sexual assault in India and South Asia more broadly. The potential for the conference to influence policy change was indicated by the caliber of the participants. Attendees included Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India, and former Chief Justice Leila Seth and former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, both members of the Verma Committee that was established to make recommendations for law reform after the Delhi gang rape. In collaboration with Indian partners, the GVP initiative is now exploring several projects, such as school curricular reform to encompass sex education and teacher support and mentorship.

Strengthening Child and Adolescent Protections in India

In July 2013, the FXB Center, in partnership with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), convened a conference in Delhi on “Children and Adolescents in India – A Critical Rights Agenda.” The conference evaluated child and adolescent protection initiatives in India, where, despite significant progress over the past two decades, tens of millions of children and adolescents continue to be excluded from basic human rights.

The conference highlighted the findings from several FXB research projects. These include pilot studies using the SAFE Toolkit to assess child protection threats at construction sites where migrant workers move along with their families as well as within the Indian National Railway System and the situation of children living on the railway platform in Jaipur. Also presented was a first round of data collection by the Champions project investigating the triggers of academic success that enable girls from illiterate families in the state of Maharashtra to enroll in college. Representing the FXB Center, Theresa Betancourt, Jacqueline Bhabha and Orla Kelly addressed a packed conference room of child rights specialists and activists.