Deya Bhattacharya completed her first degree in law, graduating with honours in International Law, from India in 2013. Thereafter, she received a fellowship to pursue a master’s degree in Human Rights and International Justice from Central European University, Budapest.
Deya is the Senior Legal Researcher of Femin Ijtihad/Strategic Advocacy for Human Rights, a pro-bono organisation in Afghanistan that works for Muslim women’s rights in post-conflict regions. Her previous work involves preparing a National Strategy Plan for promotion of women’s economic rights for the Kabul Conference on Women’s Economic Rights that became a campaign to build into the Afghan constitution, basic principles for the economic rights of women. She has also prepared training modules on Strategic Litigation of Women’s Rights in Afghan Courts, and delineated parts of the Afghan criminal code to find alternative solutions to cases involving zina (adultery), rape, child custody. Based on these manuals, workshops were conducted for Afghan lawyers, community mobilisers and scholars to train them to reference, cite and strategically use Shariah-based arguments in women’s rights litigation. In May 2013, this project won the SOAS, University of London’s prize for ‘Student-led Volunteering Project of the Year’.
During the fall of Muammar al Gadhafi, Libya’s head of state, Deya was a part of a team that interviewed Libyan activists and organisations on women’s political participation in post-conflict Libya, and lobbied for inclusivity of women and a more comprehensive electoral law. The findings of this research were published in a paper that has been presented at the London School of Economics and the Women’s Academy of Munich.
Besides this, Deya was a Human Rights Documentation intern with the Open Society Archives, Budapest, where she analysed archival evidence of the mass graves in Srebrenica, and built thematic repositories of evidence on sexual violence as well as forced migration. She has also interned with PILnet, Budapest, where she worked on anti-trafficking laws in Europe; drafted training manuals at a non-governmental organisation called Independent Thought; worked as a research assistant to Dr. Rajeev Dhavan (Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India) at his non-profit, Public Interest Litigation Support and Research Centre (PILSARC); and was involved in research at the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and at the Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi).
Deya’s primary interests lie in combining women’s rights and transitional justice, and she believes that an answer to women’s development lies in turbulent but nascent justice systems. At The Hindu Centre of Politics & Public Policy, Deya will attempt to examine the fissures left by the Kashmir conflict in the lives of the wives of the disappeared – the ‘Half-Widows’ as they are known – who are economically, socially and legally deprived, and whose experiences are indicative of how transitional justice mechanisms generally leave out women’s voices during reconciliation. Through her research, she will examine whether an official fact-finding body or a truth commission can help towards reconciliation in Kashmir, along with formulating legal and administrative mechanisms for these women.
Read Policy Report No. 16 here:The Plight of Kashmiri Half-Widows.