Issue 9, Semester 2, 2019
I miss India. It's been more than a month since my internship at Human Rights Law Network as part of the subject Law and Legal Practice in Asia and I am still yet to fully process my time there. Those who know me know that I'm quite a private, but emotional person. I often find myself getting attached to my surroundings, taking things too personally, or thinking and overthinking things. It wouldn't be the first time someone pointed out to me that these are the precise attributes of lawyering which are unwelcome. After all, lawyers are supposed to be objective, unwavering, sharp – nothing less but also nothing more. But hey, I'm still working on it.
This does explain, however, why it has taken me such a long time to share anything more intimate about my time in India. When people ask me about it (often in passing or in circumstances where I have insufficient time to respond), I always tell them the experience was amazing and eye-opening, and just leave it at that. But when I think back, describing it like that takes so much away from the reality of it all – it takes away from the abuse suffered by the bonded labourers that I worked with, or the restless work of the other interns, lawyers and advocates. Because, in addition to the wonderful friendships, fun times and good memories that we shared, the work we did was confronting, challenging and far from amazing.
There is nothing glamorous about human rights work. I think many people know that, but don’t entirely grasp just how frighteningly f**ked this field of work is – particularly for those working on the ground. For those in our generation (myself included) self-proclaimed to be suffering from woke-ness fatigue, being a corporate sell out or feigning ignorance seems more and more blissful with each disheartening news headline that we wake up to each morning. The burden and fatigue of the grim reality that is modern-day slavery and human trafficking can be too hard to digest for those of us living worlds away.
That’s why I decided to share this video, which documents in more detail some of the work I did during my time there, and to write this very short blurb of my thoughts to accompany it. I don't really know what sharing this video here will do as I am unsure as to how many of you will actually watch it or what actions will come from it - I just felt like it was the right thing to do.
I was too shy to speak in this video at the time (something which I regret now), but many of the pictures in the video were taken by me, something which I feel really proud of. The video was made by my beautiful friends Rana Biswas and Shruti Das. It features Max, Eleanor, Pragya, Seerat, Morgaan, Christina and my incredible supervisor and social activist Nirmal Gorana (who has dedicated his entire life to this work).