Activist Sudha Bharadwaj is among 21 women honoured by the Harvard Law School this year through a portrait exhibition on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Bharadwaj was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case in August and is currently in a prison in Pune.
Lawyer Menaka Guruswamy, who in the Supreme Court argued against parts of Section 377 that criminalised homosexual activity, will also be featured.
The portrait exhibit showcases the “astounding contributions of women around the world to the areas of law and policy”. This year’s exhibit has 21 honorees, each of whom were nominated by Harvard Law School students, faculty or staff. The women featured in the exhibit are “powerful voices in their respective fields, whether they are sitting on a high court bench, standing in front of a classroom, or marching in the streets”.
Sudha Bharadwaj is a human rights lawyer who has worked for several decades in Chhattisgarh. She was arrested in connection with an investigation into a public meeting that was organised before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018. Nine other human rights were also arrested for the same incident. Bharadwaj and the other activists are accused of masterminding the violence and of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Menaka Guruswamy was one of the lawyers who argued against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalised “sex against the order of nature”. In September 2018, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court decriminalised homosexual activity between consenting adults, which was punishable by up to 10 years in jail according to Section 377. Guruswamy is a BR Ambedkar Research Scholar and a lecturer at Columbia Law School.
American politician and lawyer Stacey Abrams, US women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, law professor Monica Bell, Puerto Rican politician and philanthropist Sila María Calderón, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the others who will be featured in the exhibit.