18 June, 2021

The Law As A Samaritan

It's not enough to tell the persecuted about their rights; the law too must firm up

The Law As A Samaritan
Vimala was pregnant when she was diagnosed HIV positive. The virus was the only gift her alcoholic husband Ganpat, who had liaisons with sex workers, had ever given her. Yet, she was blamed for her condition. But Vimala would not give in easily. She realised that staying on in Kolhapur with her husband would only lead to her ostracisation.

The 31-year-old fled to her parents’ home in Pune. After months of care and medication her newly-born daughter was pronounced HIV negative. But Ganpat continued to haunt her for leaving him this way. She lived in constant fear until she met Pune-based lawyer-activist Asim Sarode. Vimala dreaded police hassles. So Sarode got the police to talk tough with Ganpat to keep him from harassing his wife. He helped Vimala file for divorce and got her a job with a social organisation. Today, she is raising her daughter all by herself. "I feel confident and have found a reason to live," she says.

"Being a lawyer isn’t about wearing a black jacket and running after money," says Sarode. "I always wanted to use law as an instrument of social...

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