Friday in Focus: Arushi Garg
I am currently a Stipendiary Lecturer in law at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Simultaneously, I am a D Phil candidate in Law based at the Centre for Criminology. My research examines factors associated with conviction and acquittal in rape cases in Delhi. Before this, I read for the BCL and M Phil in Law at Magdalen College, Oxford. My postgraduate studies have been funded primarily by the Rhodes Scholarship and the Mann Senior Scholarship.
My involvement with the Oxford Human Rights Hub was routed through my participation in the Oxford Pro Bono Publico – first as a volunteer researcher/coordinator, and then as the Deputy Chairperson. We collaborated with a range of civil society actors from across the world, working on human rights broadly defined. Our contribution was usually in the form of meticulous, multi-jurisdictional research on questions of law that the project partner sought assistance with. In turn, we learned about and supported cutting edge human rights practice in several sectors, ranging from reproductive rights to victims’ rights in the criminal justice system. This experience reinforced my view that productive conversations between activists and academics are not only possible, but also vital. This exchange offers academics a more grounded view of the law, while allowing them to inform, support and influence crucial public interest interventions. With this understanding, I also interned at the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre, a South African NGO engaged in strategic rights litigation. This proved to be an immensely fulfilling experience and was made viable through financial support from the Oxford Pro Bono Publico. I have previously written about it over here.
Similarly, my work as an editor for the Oxford Human Rights Hub blog showed me that the production of legal knowledge is not necessarily the preserve of legal academics. This vibrant platform includes posts from practitioners, policy-makers, students and academics. The contributors have different strengths, experiences and theoretical frameworks. They all have much to learn from each other. Working with them led me to explore a ‘law in context’ approach to my research. Accordingly, I rely on an eclectic range of data sources for my thesis, including judgments, court observation and qualitative interviews with victims, lawyers, judges and victim-support personnel. The use of a socio-legal methodology lends itself to an analysis not only of the formal scope of the law, but also its interpretation and enforcement through trial courts.
Over the years, I have continued to support the Hub’s activities, such as by contributing to the fascinating RightsUp podcast series, or by writing posts for the Hub’s blog. I am grateful for the opportunities that have been made available to me through this dynamic organisation and hope to remain involved with it in the future.