From the COVID-19 pandemic to the highly political and very gut-wrenching Hatras rape case, the year 2020 was surely a dark one for us. However, it was also the year that taught us so much about the power of the human spirit. It was amid an unprecedented pandemic, a dwindling economy, and consequent hopelessness that our women changemakers rose to the occasion.
From bringing us first-hand reports of the ongoing pandemic to reaching out to the underprivileged, these women leaders shouldered the responsibility of keeping our hopes alive. Nirbhaya Advocate Seema Samridhi was surely one of them. It was in 2020 that we finally saw the conclusion of almost a decade-old Nirbhaya case. After years of rambling, the accused were hanged. Sans an iota of doubt, Seema was relieved and as jubilant as Nirbahya’s family. Finally, justice was met!
But Seema’s fight has just begun as she eyes the high stake Hathras case now. That said, there’s no stopping this fearless woman as she goes about her mission of empowering women, undeterred. In a recent interview for Levi’s® #IShapeMyWorldCampaign, Seema talked about the motivation behind taking the Nirbhaya case and her own story so far. Seema is now a part of the brand’s year-long campaign that would comprise heart-to-heart interactions with 7 powerful women. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Growing up, whenever Seema saw someone being wronged or any form of injustice, she always spoke against it. As she shared, “Jab bhi koi galat karta hai, kahi bhi nainsaafi hoti hai main immediately react karti hoon. Is duniya se jaane se Pehle main apni puri zindagi logo ke bhalai ke liye samarpit karna chahti hoon (Whenever someone does wrong, whenever there is injustice, I immediately react to it. I want to dedicate my life to the betterment of people).” Well, this was the very same attitude that played as a driving force behind her taking the Nirbhaya case.
In fact, she became a lawyer after fighting for her own education and after being told that there are so many lawyers already and she’d hardly make a difference. Back in 2012, when the Nirbhaya case happened, Seema observed something very problematic. The parents of her fellow PG girls were scared and asked their daughters to return back home.
“Mujhe yeh baat sahi nahi lagi. Uss saal jo protests hue main unme shaamil hui lekin mujhe laga ki kya yeh solution hai? (I didn’t like what was happening. After that, I also participated in the protests but then I thought--was I doing enough”), she shares.
That is when she decided to do something for Nirbhaya, approached her family, and agreed to represent them in the court. While it might have taken 7 years for the case to see its culmination, Seema is glad that Nirbhaya finally found justice.
Seema always wanted to prove herself and do something for the country. And for that, she had to fight a lot of battles. Today, she is a big name, the entire nation knows her as the “Nirbhaya lawyer” and yet she continues fighting. “I do this so that no one else has to endure all that I have been through,” she says.
Sharing her own story, she further adds, “Papa mujhe humesha se pyaar karte the, lekin woh darte the. Humaara district Beehad, Chambal mein padhta hai, toh kaafi daakuo ki gang rehti thi jo ladkiyon ko utha lete the. Humaare gaanv mein ladkiyon ko 9th standard mein admission nahi diya jaata tha. (Our district used to fall in the dacoit-infested jungles of Chambal. They were infamous for kidnapping girls and this is why the parents would not let the girls study after a certain age.)”
However, Seema fought for her education and was then sent to a nearby village which was relatively safer. But that wasn’t the end of her struggles. After she had finished school, her parents weren’t in support of sending her for graduation. This is when Seema decided to sell whatever little jewellery she had and started teaching in a private school to save some money for her education. She then appeared for her LLB entrance exams without telling anyone in the family. She cleared the exam and there was no stopping after that.
After Nirbhaya, Seema will now be fighting the Unnao rape case that continues to get more and more complicated. However, she is determined and would not let anything stop her from fighting for women’s empowerment. In fact, she is also working on her own trust that aims to spread legal literacy among the rural population in the country.
“Logon ki madad karke kaafi energetic feel karti hoon. (I feel energized after helping people)”, shares Seema. “Every problem has a solution, everyone can do anything given that they have the resolve. I am Seem Samridhi and this is how I shape my world,” she concludes.
#ISHAPEMYWORLD is a platform created to inspire and enable women across India. This season, #ISHAPEMYWORLD would be celebrating the stories of seven inspiring women which include: Faye D’Souza, Seema Samridhi, Iti Rawat, Zoya Akshtar, Sumukhi Suresh, Trisha Shetty, and Raja Kumari. With storytelling at its heart, the conversation would continue throughout the year.
This is a sponsored article for Levi’s®.
Featured Image: Levi’s®