March for Human Rights

Kaya Eldridge has done more for my quality of life than all the tea, shrinks and value-for-money dresses in the world. She is one of the most caring, amusing, practical people I ever had the luck to call a friend.

Yet it if you recognise her name it’s probably because it’s been in the national papers in recent weeks.

In the early stages of a three-month work placement in the Indian town of Ahmedabad, Kaya was sexually assaulted by a plumber in her house. She reported the attack and successfully pushed for the perpetrator to be prosecuted – a rare outcome in a sexual assault case in India – but the enlightenment stopped there. When the trial began,  the courtroom was full of sneering men shouting at her in Gujurat.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, the defence lawyer decided the best way to defend his client was to drag her reputation through the mud. He asked a series of humiliating questions such as ‘do you drink? and’ ‘how often do you shower?’

The full details of the case are all over the internet.

Kaya – my darling, brave, clear-minded Kaya – concluded this wasn’t acceptable and drummed up a tidal wave of publicity in India, directing attention to the fact that her human rights had been violated.  Her outspoken actions have caused a long overdue judicial enquiry into a system that often treats women in her position with shocking disrespect.

Meanwhile, news of her case spread to this country and The Independent, The Times and The Daily Mail – to name but a few – have run stories whilst Kaya took her cause even further by leading a march of thousands through the streets of Ahmedabad.

Kaya is fighting her corner like Buffy via Prince Naz. She is using the traumatic thing that happened to her as a way of shining the media spotlight on human rights violations in the very institutions that are supposed to uphold them. It’s just what you hope you would do but what people rarely find the strength for.

Now, it is our turn to take the baton and run with it.

On Monday 5 October, we will be meeting at 12 pm on the steps of the School of Oriental and African Studies in Russell Square. We will march down to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych where a petition will be presented that calls for Indian laws passed in 2002 to protect sexual assault victims in the courts to be implemented. We shall also be promoting the broad and noble issue of human rights for all.

If you sympahise with these are issues or just want to show solidarity for a girl who done good then, please, put your best foot forward this Monday.


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