Human rights defender
As a human rights lawyer Kiruba files cases for victims of caste-based discrimination and violence, sexual minorities and other marginalized individuals whose social, political and basic human rights are infringed. She particularly focuses on caste and gender based discriminations, discrimination in the academic spaces, state repression, death penalty, Dalit women’s empowerment, indigenous rights, LGBTQI rights, the advancement of disadvantaged groups and the freedom of expression. Kiruba organizes meetings, conducts law-awareness workshops and takes part in fact-finding missions. Kiruba is also a Dalit women activist. In this respect she gives talks on the rights of Dalits and Dalit feminism.
Human rights violations in India
In India’s caste system, the Dalits (or so-called untouchables) are traditionally seen as the lowest of the low. While several laws and policies have been established to protect and promote the rights of the Dalits, those are not implemented in the practice and India has been unable to meet international human rights standards in that respect. Discrimination comes from the community but also state actors such as the police and is an obstacle for Dalits to access health care, property, education or employment as well as to practice their religion freely.
Currently, Kiruba is working to set up a training school for judicial activism where lawyers, including women from disadvantaged communities will be trained with professional skills and provided with co-working space to act independently. The school will provide paralegal trainings to activists working for the Dalits, minorities and LGBTQI community.
Threats and harassment
As a Dalit woman activist, who lives in a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multilingual context, Kiruba is at the intersection of many identities. Since she vigorously and consistently works against casteism, racism, and gender-based discriminations, she is subjected to sexual, emotional and physical harassment. She has also survived a violent physical attack. Kiruba faces persecutions as a result of her work, her activism and also because of her personal identities of race, caste and gender.
“Justice is about an inner sense of humanity, treating every other person with dignity”