Support Sneha Mukherjee To Reach SOAS, University of London | Milaap
Support Sneha Mukherjee To Reach SOAS, University of London
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    This fundraiser will benefit

    Sneha Mukherjee

    from New Delhi, Delhi

Story

Hello! My Name is Sneha Mukherjee. I am a human rights activist and advocate by profession. I was born and raised in a small town called Sindri, Jharkhand. I have been accepted into the Masters in Gender Studies Programme at SOAS, University of London and I need your help and support to be able to attend.

Fees & Living Expenses :
 
The total sum for the course fees, college deposit is £23400 (Approx. INR 22,50,042). The approximate cost for accommodation, living expenses and other costs is about INR 18,00,000.
While I am currently trying to raise INR 15 Lakhs through a bank loan to cover my living expenses in London, I cannot raise the amount of the tuition fees on my own. I am a first generation woman to go to college outside of my town to pursue Law and find my place in the profession. Without your support it will not be possible to pursue this opportunity.

A Little About Me!

I belong to a small township called Sindri in Jharkhand. I completed my schooling in Jharkhand and thereafter completed my legal education from Orissa. Growing up was not easy, as at every important juncture life reminded me of the limitations faced by a small town woman, pursuing ambitions beyond her financial means. There was family and societal resistance towards my desire to pursue law, which finally relented on the condition that I undertake a loan to finance my education.The resistance and the begrudging approval of family members subsided temporarily, when upon graduation I started my professional career with a high paying corporate litigation job. But I could not reconcile my work with my value system. I could never get away from the fact that my actions can have an impact too, and the fact that I could use the law as a tool for empowering women’s rights.Within a year, I left my corporate job and joined a human rights based organisation with a dip of more than 60 percent of my previous salary. I was lambasted for my actions, for ruining a lucrative career but I was sure about what I wanted to do. I had taken a loan of Rs. 8,00,000 for my legal education in 2008, which I could only repay in 2021 (I passed out in 2013).

My work so far:

Over the last 7 years, I have worked dedicatedly to provide pro bono legal assistance and representation to persons from the marginalized community. My work over the years has focused on addressing and impacting policy level change through strategic litigation.

In the world of celebrated motherhood, we have to acknowledge that even though motherhood is one of the most beautiful bonds in civilised society so far, not every woman may feel the same. The social custom and conditioning make a preemptive assumption that every woman cherishes motherhood. This preconceived notion puts the burden on every woman, across all sections of society to live with the same narrative. The narrative has so far ignored the basic fact that there is no absolute truth in generalisation. Women have always fallen victim to the generalised mindset of society. While I seek inspiration from queer movements, how they have broken established norms in society so far, where even the courts (and in part, certain sections of society) have agreed upon the disillusioned narrative of cis gender-oriented society and the society is going towards the corrective course.I would highlight my work on the “my body my choice” narrative and I cannot constrain myself in saying that the preconceived notion of motherhood in society, well reflected in legislation at present, makes a forced decision on women to carry motherhood. Unwanted pregnancies, where women should have the right to decide their choice, are forced to carry the burden of illustrious and well-accepted motherhood.I have been vociferously arguing the right of women over their choice regarding their body and pregnancy. I have represented more than 40 women as an advocate who did not want to carry their pregnancies. When I started representing the women, there were only one or two cases. I can proudly say that despite a lot of initial resistance from courts, where I was termed as an accomplice to murder,  now even courts in India have acknowledged that women cannot be forced to carry out a pregnancy against their wishes. Society often forgets that most of the women were rape survivors, many were minor women, and many were unwanted pregnancies arising out of domestic violence. The harsh reality of individual trauma cannot be ignored in the garb of motherhood. I can proudly say that I have been one of the catalysts in the process where we could create jurisprudence in the MTP Act where the courts have allowed termination of pregnancy up to 31 weeks.

 I have further Co-authored the book “My Body My Choice – A Human Rights Perspective on Abortion Laws in India”.

I further participated in several workshops, one of them is the Annual Workshop held in Kathmandu, Nepal by the Centre for Reproductive Rights. I was invited as a Panelist at International Conference on “Abortion Laws and Human Rights-A Global Experience” organised by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties at Dublin, Ireland in November 2017. I was also invited as a Panelist on Fourth CAC Conclave (Expanding the discourse on Comprehensive Abortion care (CAC)) in India organised by Ipas in New Delhi in 2019. I organised several meetings, consultations and focused group discussions with women to let them know it is their body and it is their choice, to make them aware about their health rights.

I also briefed Mr. Colin Gonsalves on the recent Marital rape case which resulted in a split verdict. In fact, we were the only ones who were representing survivors of marital rape. I had been representing the survivor since__ year before trial courts and high courts. After the split verdict, we have further filed an appeal before Supreme Court.

I have further worked on a range of issues revolving around women’s rights involving issues such as Child marriage, Access to contraception and information service, Blood banks, Thalassaemia, Sexual harassment at the workplace (member, training), Sex workers, Acid attack, survivors of gender-based violence and riots across the country.

I was recently invited to speak on the laws around rights of acid attack survivors in India by BBC World. The video link is under:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0cdlwy1

Why am I opting for Higher Education?
After gaining sufficient experience as an activist and as an advocate I could assess the gap between legislation, its implementation and the society. I have realized the importance of working in the policy framework for ground-breaking changes. For example, the laws relating to abortion so far have been only made to secure the interests of the service providers. While I could also study in India, I believe that the exposure and learning from the other societies that have already witnessed some cultural shifts and are ahead in terms of women’s rights is important. Setalvad went to U.S. and realized that legal research is non-existent in India, and hence opened the Indian Law Institute but he could have the vision only by visiting more advanced societies and learning from there. I wish to gain the same kind of learning that I can effectively use when I come back to India.

Why should I be given money??
The education system is expensive and that holds true around the globe. Though cliché, education loans are more expensive than car loans. I pursued law with the loan, which took me 8 years to repay. But that’s the situation for most aspiring students. How am I different? I believe that my work experience and enthusiasm for women’s rights have prepared me to serve my society for a lifetime, and I believe that I will always be accountable for the money received for my education, and that accountability will keep pushing me to do more for the women’s rights. I don’t want to settle abroad, l want to work for a society with a better policy vision, which I believe can be supplemented through higher education on policy change.

I am attaching my offer letters for your perusal. I would be ever so grateful if you could give your due consideration to my request and help me serve my country in the best possible way I know- through advocacy for justice.

 Any contribution will help, and I sincerely thank you if you can spread this campaign, move it through your networks or help in any other way. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at snehamukherjee.kls@gmail.com, as I would like to be as transparent as possible with this campaign and its funding request!

Warm Regards,
Sneha Mukherjee

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