This week Leela caught up with the superlatively interesting Ashok Gubbi Venkateshmurthy. Take a few minutes and find out more about him. It will be worth your while.
1.Tell us a little bit about the work you do.
I am one of the two Co-Founders and Managing Partners of CorLit Legal. I come from a background in indirect taxation, trade mark management and protection and commercial litigation, which forms the crux of my practice as a lawyer. As part of our pro bono initiative, I work with Enfold Proactive Health Trust to provide legal assistance to survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse, besides undertaking sensitization and capacity building programs for law enforcement, students and social workers on the subject of sexual violence.
2.What inspired you to get into this specific line of work?
I guess role models make all the difference. I had a combination of both fictional and non fictional role models. On one hand there was Dr. Ravindranath Shanbhag and my father, himself an accomplished Attorney. On the other hand, characters in fiction like Atticus Finch, Jake Brigance and Alan Shore shaped my perception of what kind of a person I wanted to be. I was also influenced by John Douglas, Nicholas Groth, Kenneth V. Lanning and Roy Hazelwood, who have taught the world everything it knows about violence against women and children. Once I stepped into the profession, the work itself became a motivation. The kind of people I met, the situations I encountered and the adversities we overcame, had and continues to shape my character. It is not just a job that I do anymore. It is a journey in personal development, spiritual growth and character building.
3.What are some of the difficulties you face on the job?
The problems I encounter are symptomatic of a larger more disturbing picture. Any society that sees a sexual assault on a child as a threat to her marriage prospects instead of an affront to her bodily integrity, autonomy and human rights; has seriously poor perspective that needs addressing. A justice system which sees incest as a family problem and advocates an out of court settlement instead of mandating a fair and impartial investigation and aggressive prosecution, is collapsed and needs repairing.
You see, the issue is ignorance. But what makes it worse is the culture of anti intellectualism in the country at the moment. Behavioral Science, Psychology, scientific temper and spirit of inquiry are shunned in favour of traditions, stereotypes and anecdotes, no matter how unfounded. Rather than seeing atrocities as an affront to human rights, we see it as religious, political and moral issues, thereby undermining and even diluting the individual’s suffering and thirst for justice. In the name of practicality, we abandon values and principles all the time. As a country, we haven’t embraced constitutional values as a way of life and the state systems just reflect our own shortcomings. I wish we could all be more empathetic, less judgmental and more open to learning.