“Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country”. Amazingly, the self-evident truth in the words of legendary British politician, late Margaret Thatcher, rings completely true in the case of renowned criminal lawyer of Odisha – Babita Kar. She dared to join the not easy profession of criminal lawyer after spending sixteen years of her life as a house-wife. Her indomitable will for getting justice for the under-privileged in the society that earned her wide acclaim from one and all. She was distinguished as the one offering free legal counseling to the poor and needy.
Born in the temple city, her education at Unit-9 Girls School and later Rama Devi Women’s College proved short-lived as Babita had to walk down the aisle at a very young age. Yearning for an independent professional life, she again took to completing her graduation and Bachelor of Laws from Capital Law College of Bhubaneswar. She got her license to practice in the year 2007. She always takes up the sides of innocent people who are unable to afford fees of lawyers. Her free services could not win her favours at first. She earned the wrath of fellow lawyers as letters against her were shot to Chief Justice of Orissa High Court and Chief Minister of the state. She stuck adamantly to her views on equal justice for everyone without any gender bias. Her nobleness finally made her overcome this challenge as charges were dropped against her later.
Babita comes alive, while terming the rape of minor female child as the most heinous that requires harshest punishment from law. “How do you feel, when you find a two year old girl child is raped and bleeding? Is it not inhuman?”
The lawyer does not step back, while regretting the rise in violence against women in the households and the consequent dowry deaths. “Although, a number of girls are now technically qualified and employed, this does not spare their parents from spending high in dowry. Dowry has taken proportionate leaps in the last decades and it has become literally unmanageable, giving boost to break-up of couples, suicides, and dowry deaths of housewives”-She says with a pale expression on her face.
Babita founded an NGO, Friends Foundation Trust, to provide legal services and care to abandoned new-born babies at road sides, free health check-up to women and children, and other necessary aid to kids for their safety and protection in the society.
“I only took admission in Capital Law College after my daughter completed her matriculation examination. But one day to my utter disbelief, I could manage to dispose more than 30 cases in a single day. The conditions of those waiting in wings for justice unnecessarily behind bars were appalling. Especially, there were those women, who were unnecessarily framed with grudge by their in-laws and relatives. Such ladies were eager to go home and meet their children, who were waiting in utter disadvantaged conditions for their mothers”- Babita explains effusively while justifying her decision to join the stream of legal study as a career option.
While asked whether her family backed up her mission to support women’s issues through legal counseling, Babita gushes out- “Everyone, almost everyone in my family extended a helping hand. My husband, working as a Section Officer in IG prisons, had a cent percent positive attitude towards my career. Besides this, my father-in-law and mother-in-law were equally supportive for my decision to get into the legal career. Without their active support, it was almost impossible”.
Although considered as the top woman Criminal Lawyer of the state, fighting most of the controversial criminal cases, Babita does not step back while vehemently justifying her argument for equal justice both for men and women.
“Taking a biased view of the gender issue is completely illogical. Women are equally at fault and need prosecution by law. Just cast a glance at the increasing number of prostitution rackets found in our state. Unlike the other states, we do not have frame of laws to send the girls behind bars, who are caught in the rackets of prostitution. The other states have immoral trafficking prevention Act that can send the offenders for court trial belonging to age group of 14 to 40. But unfortunately, our state does not have such law, although there is a fundamental provision in our constitution in this regard.
They are simply taken to the Women’s Police Station and let off through bail. Odisha has literally turned a paradise for the sex racketeers. While young girls of our state are being lured into the flesh trade, increasing number of prostitutes come here from other states as they find it a very safe haven. This is gradually polluting our society as well as our state, which was earlier famous for its impeccable reputation”-laments the fiery woman activist, who has taken up cudgels against all the sensitive issues through various campaigns.
“A crime free and healthy Odisha has so far stayed my dream. Hopefully, there would be a day, the women would get their due respect and live with their hubbies with equal rights”-She speaks while putting equally emphasis on the more sensitive issues like Women trafficking and faster conviction of culprits in the sensational crimes against women”.
The social activist puts more emphasis on the creation of SHG (Self Help Groups) for the empowerment of economically backward women in the society. Believing true empowerment of the women would take place once they get equal opportunity in education and making good income. Terming Dr Achyuta Samanta as her idol, who has done a lot for the education of female children, she thinks in a patriarchal society, noble contribution from such persons could only strengthen the cases of under-privileged among women.
“True women empowerment could take place only through boosting economic measures like financial measures for creation of self help groups and reservation for women in the job quotas. Other than this, the more dominating attitude of the women need condemnation from every quarter of the society”- She gives her final message with a broad smile.