There are stories that change your entire worldview, and for once you think that maybe everything is connected.
Reading about Seema Kushwaha's life, you feel the same.
For the uninitiated, Seema was the lawyer who fought Nirbhaya's case in the Supreme Court and got the convicts to be hanged on March 20, 2020.
Meet Lady Advocate Seema Samriddhi Kushwaha who fight for seven years to provide justice to delhi rape case girl nirbhaya.she fights all odds without taking A single penny from the parents of victim.she deserve a huge respect.@PMOIndia @Seemasamridhi @imranrezaansari @kansalrohit pic.twitter.com/5v1L5npqjT— Dawood Ali Dar (داوود علی) (@DawoodAliDar1) April 1, 2020
It wasn't an easy journey, by any sense of the word, though. And I am not just talking about the case. I am talking about Seema's life.
In an interview given to Humans of Bombay, Seema said that she was born to parents who already had 3 boys and 3 girls. Which meant that she was treated like a burden. In fact, they even wanted to abort her. But her father and aunt stepped up and said she deserves a chance to live.
They had no idea back then, that they were not only changing her destiny, but that of the entire country.
Seema went to school, which wasn't that common.
And she went on to study beyond class 8, which was totally unheard of. As was a girl fighting with boys.
Seema was determined. She went on a hunger strike when a marriage proposal came, and decided to become a lawyer.
Which, she says, wasn't a very respected profession for girls in UP. And so, she shifted to Delhi, and it was then that the horrific Nirbhaya incident happened.
I was staying in a PG, when it happened. 16th December, 2012, the day they gangraped her in a way no one could fathom. When we woke up to the news, there was fear and anger. 12 girls from my PG immediately left Delhi, because their parents were terrified. I was gutted. I cried uncontrollably thinking about her; about what she went through. When more details started pouring in, something in me moved. I wiped my tears. All my life, I’d fought for myself, but this wasn’t the time to sit at home and cry. It was the time to get out there and fight back.
Seema went for protest marches and did everything she could. But justice seemed like a far fetched dream at that point, with the convicts' lawyer saying the most horrible things and getting away with them.
That is when she realised she will have to take up this case.
In the court, Seema would see the convicts laughing, joking and lying in everyone's faces.
I saw all 4 of them lie through their teeth. Vinay and Pawan said they were at a party that night. Akshay claimed he was out of town, and Mukesh said he was just driving the bus and didn’t rape her. The bite marks on Jyoti’s body matched Akshay’s teeth. The skin in her nails was theirs and samples of their sperm were found in her private area. I can’t put into words what I felt when they produced that rod in court. I felt like I’d faint, even imagining the pain that it would have caused her. Still, they lied and said they hadn’t seen the rod before. Their fingerprints were all over it.
This was Seema's first case but there was one thing, extremely daunting, that had to be done. They had to take things to the Supreme Court.
It wasn't easy, with the opposition lawyer trying every trick in the book and finding loopholes.
However late, justice knocked at the door, and that day no trick worked, every plan failed.
Finally, at 3 in the morning, the judge said, "It’s time for your clients to meet with God and you need to accept that AP Singh!"
Nirbhaya's parents and Seema kept track of the proceedings in Tihar by watching the news. And when all the convicts were hanged, they hugged each other and cried.
Seema says her life as a kid prepared her for this challenge, in many ways. And despite the society being flawed, she has only one message for girls who have been wronged:
Hum chhodenge nahi unhe.
Humans of Bombay did a series of 6 posts on Seema and you can find them on their page here.