Commitment to human rights, especially of children

About

Born in Bangalore, India, my family has been closely associated with the Good Shepherd Congregation over three generations. First as student, then parent and now social worker, I too have been honoured to serve.

A Master’s degree in Social Work (Tata Institute of Social Sciences -TISS, 1990) and a Lay Leadership Course on ‘Vatican Council II - Role of Laity’ were turning points in my life. Subsequently, professional work (1990 -’99) at the TISS Special Cell for Women in Distress, and then with children in street situations under the Jesuits, Marianists, Salesians and Good Shepherds, all triggered rich transformative experiences.  

From 1999-2018, I worked at the Centre for Child and the Law, a research centre of India’s premier National Law School of India University - as Fellow, heading the Juvenile Justice Program, and 2 years as Centre Coordinator. Over these 19 years, I conceptualized and implemented projects involving provision of psycho-socio-legal services to children; research; curriculum development and teaching (PG Diploma on Child Rights Law), Refresher courses for law teachers;  Training of stakeholders/judicial officers across the country including Training of Trainers;  publishing;  fund-raising;  collaboration with Government towards effective implementation of law and formulation/reform of policy/law; advocacy; provision of Technical Support to the Supreme Court Committee on JJ and UNICEF for four rounds of regional and national round-table consultations (2014-‘18); campaigning against proposed retributive policy;  deposing before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Juvenile Justice Bill, 2014;  submissions to concerned Ministries, UN Human Rights Committee’s UPR; and successful Supreme Court litigation (along with others, attracting the International Juvenile Justice Award without Borders, 2014). I was also member of various state/national level Committees, - Karnataka High Court Committee on Juvenile Justice;  Ministry of Women and Child Development’s Committee to review amendments to juvenile law; Working Group on Child Rights (Planning Commission of India) etc.

I now work independently on child rights, engaging in research, training, evaluations, teaching, advocacy, etc., while also embracing the Restorative Justice Approach.

In Good Shepherd

Earlier I served as a Past Students & Parent’s Association office bearer; helped establish Chaitanya Home and the Street Outreach program (1997-‘99);  evaluated Nirmala Seva Kendra (1998-‘99), and contributed to drafting the province’s Policy for Reconciliation of Allegation of Abuse (2013).

I am now a member of the Justice and Peace Commission, SW India, (Provincialate), and represent it at Asia Pacific level.

The Challenges

Pope Francis’ exhortation to ‘be shepherds with the smell of the sheep,’ challenges me to constantly seek out the life-changing encounters I have experienced with children in street situations, to shake out of my comfort zone towards more sensitive engagement, irrespective of smelly clothes or street smart behaviour, and to zealously work towards transformation of self, institutions, policies and laws in the best interest of children.

The Inspiration

Having experienced the congregation’s powerful charism, and witnessing numerous sisters in spirited action -  working either at the grass-roots or at the global level at the United Nations furthering the rights of women/children, convinces me that this is a calling – one that effectively blends my personal, professional and spiritual journey towards being an authentic Christian Social Worker, committed to justice and healing through restorative approaches, while respecting the human rights of all, particularly children. 

 

 

Projects

Report from the Asia Pacific Partnership Team

Report from the Asia Pacific Partnership Team

Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region