Kathmandu School Of Law (KSL)
in co-operation with Center for Legal Research and Resource Development (CeLRRd)

E-Bulletin (Vol 72)

2 February, 2007

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Feature Article

   
 

News

       

US Assistance Supports Kathmandu School of Law

US Ambassador James F Moriarty announced the inauguration of the Kathmandu School of Law’s newly expanded library and computer facilities on 30 Jan, 2007. USAID/Nepal, as part of the US Mission to Nepal, has provided The Asia Foundation (TAF) a grant of $84,675 to support the strengthening of these facilities.  As a counterpart contribution, The Asia Foundation is providing $250,000 worth of books through its “Books for Asia” program.  <Top>

This one-year program has provided over 4,500 books including law-related materials, reference books, and other social science texts of interest to the Kathmandu School of Law (KSL). The School has already purchased around 1300 books from India and other national suppliers. The reference section of the library is now stacked with judgments from U.S., India, and Nepal. The funding has also allowed the School to procure 20 computers and other technical equipment, which are used by both students and faculty members. Wireless internet which can be used on laptop has also been connected. Additionally, Supreme Court judgments provided by the program have helped developing standards of students to practice pleading in a courtroom setting. Moot sessions as part of trial advocacy class are held as part of curriculum every Friday. 

Addressing an inaugural function organized by the KSL after unveiling the plaque, Moriarty said that the rule of law is critical for any democratic society. Businesses need the protection and fair application of law so they can seek redress when they suffer civil wrongs. Investors look to the existence of a firm and fair judicial system when making decisions about whether to place their funds in a particular region or country. Most importantly, citizens of democracy need a fair legal system to ensure they can receive justice for some wrong or crime or dispute because justice is central to democracy.<Top>

Mr. Moriarty (right) unveiling the plague

He also said that law schools are vital to provide proper training to the lawyers and judges and administrators who make a good judicial system operate. He congratulated KSL on improving its ability to provide quality legal education. He also expressed his confidence that student of KSL will use their talents to build the fair and just legal system that will be the cornerstone of a peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Nepal. "I have been very impressed with the quality of the facilities, the staff, and most importantly, the students of the KSL. You are indispensable to the building of a new Nepal", he shared. 

Speaking at the same function, Nick Langton, Country Representation of The Asia Foundation (TAF) said that the international legal luminaries with whom he had interacted so far believed that KSL has one of the most innovative clinical legal education programs in the world. "The connection with clinical legal education is that KSL students gain practical experience by their involvement in research and fieldwork on most of the projects run by CeLRRd, the sister organization of KSL." <Top>

He further shared that KSL is also becoming a resource center not just for the legal community in Nepal, but for lawyers and scholars from throughout the region. He also revealed that TAF has provided 41 grants to KSL and CeLRRd over the years of which, all except for one were funded by the US Government. "KSL represented one of the most successful partnerships of TAF in Nepal", he added.

Newly elected president of the Nepal Bar Association (NBA), Biswo Kanta Mainali said that establishment of KSL as a viable and vibrant institution is in itself a good contribution to the nation. KSL and NBA together has a great role to play in the days ahead to produce good law scholars and establish a competent, clean and independent judiciary.<Top>

He said that as the feudalistic and autocratic era in the country had come to an end, all lawyers and law scholars and political parties must focus on framing a constitution that would ascertain an independent judiciary.

Mainali said that efforts should be made to ensure that people have faith in the judiciary, which is their last resort to get justice. He also vowed to make NBA a totally independent organization without having any leaning to one or the other political group.

Earlier, delivering the welcome speech, Assoc. Prof. Yubaraj Sangroula said that KSL had come a long way in its endeavours to produce not only efficient lawyers but also good human beings. KSL made a breakthrough in the history of legal education by introducing the concept of 'community responsive' legal education founded on clinical and community outreach settings of the curricula.

Extending his gratitude to the USAID and TAF for the support to enhance the facilities at KSL he said that KSL had the aim of developing itself as a centre of excellence not only within the country, but even at the international level. "The newly updated facilities will establish KSL as a legal hub for research and scholarly activities, and as such will significantly enhance the quality of legal across the region", he added. He also expressed his hope that the school will get more physical support in future from the donors and well-wishers in infrastructure development and strengthening of its resources.  <Top>

Established in 2000, the Kathmandu School of Law provides students with an innovative legal education based on classroom instruction and clinical legal experience. Following six years of rapid growth, much of the collection in the library was outdated, making it difficult for students and faculty to obtain information on recent national and international developments in the field of law. There was a shortage of specialized legal books and journals as well as general reference materials. In answering this need, USAID/Nepal is working to improve the school’s ability to provide quality legal education, which in turn supports the development of legal professionals with a strong commitment to rule of law and access to justice throughout Nepal.

The U.S. Government, through USAID, extends assistance from the American people to peoples of other countries struggling to build better lives. This support ranges from helping to recover from a natural disaster to working to create a free and democratic nation. For 55 years, USAID/Nepal has provided assistance to the people of Nepal in the areas of conflict mitigation and peace building, democracy and governance, health and family planning, economic growth, and disaster and humanitarian aid.<Top>


Assoc Prof. Yubaraj Sangroula (left) briefing Mr. Moriarty (Center) about KSL IT Resource Center

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ESDR Alumni Association starts Functioning

ESDR Alumni Association formed by the 3rd Winter Residential School on Socio-Economic and Development Rights, and Good Governance has started functioning to materialize its agenda. According to Reena Pathak, treasurer of the association, it has decided to work on the following initial agenda.

1.  Dissemination of information on Residential School program in the respective country by the participants;

2.  Identification of Theme for the up-coming residential school program;

3.  Initiation of discussion for identification of prospective participants for the up-coming residential school program.

The Alumni Association was formed at the end of the two-week Winter Residential School Program held from 28 Dec, 2006-12 Jan, 2007 in Kathmandu with a view to taking over the responsibility of helping to organize the residential programe which has been proposed to be held in September 2007. The association consists of Ankit Jain from India as the chairperson, Rataphum Bausumlee from Thailand as the Vice-President, Reena Pathak from Nepal as the Treasurer, Sabrina Ali from Bangladesh as the Secretary, and Zhu Li from China, Farooq Azam from Pakistan, and Nima Om from Bhutan as the members.

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Feature Article

 

 

 

 

Understanding Gender

Gender has become a buzz word of the time. But before talking about gender, it is important to have a clear understanding about gender; how has it been defined, understood and applied in past days, in academia and its practices.

Typical expression of gender refers to ‘social category or practices imposed upon the biological autonomy- male and female’. Although the expression carries general understanding, the term covers broader meaning. Conceptually, gender in broader sense means a ‘kind’ or a ‘category’. The term itself is neutral and healthy. Viewing from broader perspective, one can put forward a question: is there a possibility to identify something without a category? What would be the existence of identity if there is no gender? What about calling oneself a man or woman?

Contextualizing this concept in feminism, major focus of the feminists and other theorists, infact, should surround towards discriminatory gendered practices, subordination, repression which was the continuation of past ideas and practices rather than the gender itself. However, large part of feminism is involved in radically drawing difference between man and woman and wrongly understanding the human relations. <Top>

The discriminatory gendered practice, which becomes the unequal imposed normativity of the society operated in the past days in many forms - literature, fairy tales & cultural values, and in present days predominantly through media. As a matter of fact, feminists should start advocating against such suppressive normativity of the gendered life.

Implicitly, normalism is not defective or flawed in itself because everything operates in norms (nature, human life). Importance lies on analyzing and disputing against discriminatory or regressive aspects of the norm. Therefore, to balance the unequal gendered normativity should be the concern not the norm itself, which in real sense feminists & gender studies theorists are advocating in different forms.

However, gender has been used in such a generalized manner that the term itself has become ‘notorious’. People and even theorists view it in a negative light. It has been a general practice to refer gender with women and identifying practices like emotionality, seductiveness, nurturing, as gender practices. To live a gendered life for them is something ‘to be come out’. It might also be because of the multi connotational understanding of the term itself in different societies.

Some view gender as social relation between two different sexes; some equate it with sex; some refer it as a social meaning of a biological fact; other takes it as social process of dividing up people and social practices along with the lines of sexed identities. Among this wilderness of definitions; Western belief often equates sex with gender and believe in their interchangeable relationship. They believe that gender is social interpretation of biological fact and both are almost similar because gender determines person’s life and personality. Gender in modern West usually refers to two distinct and separate categories of human beings (man and woman) as well as to the division of social practices in two fields. The gendering of social practices is found in strong association between men and public life and between women and domestic life, even though men and women occupy both spaces. Gender in Western society thus refers to a binary division of the opposite sex based on hierarchy.

Contrary, in Hindu belief two sexes are complementary to each other: prakriti & purusha (female as creation & male as achievement). Absence of one loses the existence of the other and both therefore hold equal status. In vedic hindu philosophy, prakriti is equated with concept of 'creativity' (seed) and purusha as achievement (fruit). The term purusha thus does not mean a biological attribute of 'biological' man rather it is an outcome of action. Figuratively, prakriti for its attribution to reproduce and procreate was identified as 'female' and purusha for its 'being' fruit of creativity was known as 'male'. This is where the 'normativity' of equality originates. Hence, vedic phiolosopy not only talks of gender equality but also talks about interdependence of gender for each other's existence. It therefore advocates the interactive relationship between sex and gender.

But in later practices, hindu society interpreted this interdependency in terms of supremacy; ‘male as a life with pride and success of the past life’, while female means ‘a curse or result of the bad past life’. In this way hierarchy between men and women was maintained in both the societies. Values were created accordingly. However, both positive and negative connotations of gender sprout out of the concept of sex.<Top>

This interpretation later applies in academia and in the context. The gendered norm based on such hierarchy was created in which a child started learning and living. Society expanded this hierarchical gap in such a way that every positive aspect was attributed to male (soul, intellect, strength, masculinity as such) and set against the negative female attributes (body, emotion, seduction, delicacy, femininity). Such gendered life becomes so all pervasive that our everyday life has been shaped by it. Every social institutions- law, education, religion, marriage, family, work, media produce and regulate the gender and it comes as the interplay of power i.e. the patriarchal power.

This gendered living as a matter of power then becomes normative due to its regular practice and canonization. Furthermore, power’s mechanism, in course of time changed its form; power is not regressive anymore, it is rather constitutive. Power bent on generating forces, making other (the ruled one) grow, and ordering them rather than dedicated to impeding them, making them submit or destroying them. And this new form of power, in present time, is being proliferated by the media that is highly dominated by patriarchal ideologies.

The stereotype of gender: masculinity and femininity has instead more become permanent by the media that is controlled by the patriarchal capitalist class. All digital images, the television serials, advertisement, songs, the pop culture, deeply implied the stereotypical hierarchical role of male and female. This context has more regressively dominated the gendered living.

Such regressive gendered life is being learnt, lived and resisted to some extent; sometimes protesting on roads, sometimes by sit-in-stage, and sometimes by cross-dressing. Resistance should be made and voice should be raised against such discriminatory gendered normativity of life. Because this normalism maintains patriarchal status-quo pushing women back from the equality and development. Waves of feminism at different times in history in one way or the other raised its voice against this unequal gendered normativity.

Therefore, it cannot be claimed that gendering itself is a wrong concept. There is no harm in being a man or woman but interpreting the position and role in hierarchical order is the major tension either in use of language (in text) or in legislation or in practice. Hierarchal gendered life should, thus, be abandoned not the gender itself. It is important to understand gender as a category (male, female; prakriti, purusha) and is never a deniable fact.

(
Writer is student of M.A English Literature and holds position as Liaison and Documentation Officer at KSL Secretariat)

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Kathmandu School of Law          / Telephone : 977-01-634455/6634663, 2042268
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