Speaking of Law...

Zubaan Books have two titles (among the many they have brought out recently) on matters legal. One is by the first Indian woman lawyer, edited by Kusoom Vadgama, and titled An Indian Portia: Selected Writings of Cornelia Sorabji 1866 to 1954.

Sorabji was a social reformer, an author and the first woman to practise law in India and Britain. By the time poor sight ended her work in India, she had helped many hundreds of wives, widows and orphans. She also successfully organized a League for Infant Welfare, Maternity and District Nursing. Her writings provide a priceless and fascinating documentation of one of India's most outstanding women of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her noble career and valuable archives have left behind a heritage to the people of India and their causes. Her truly extraordinary life of dedication to public service, evident from her writings and ceaseless hard work deserve to be acknowledged and publicised. This book achieves both.

The editor, Kusoom Vadgama, was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and educated there at the Government Indian Girl’s High School. In 1953 moved to Britain for further education and then to Chicago and New York, where she also studied optometry.

In our Law and History sections, in hardcover, 702 pages. Rs 1200, ISBN 9788189884765.

The second title is a volume edited by Bishakha Datta, a non-fiction writer and documentary filmmaker, executive director of Point of View, a Mumbai-based non-profit that promotes the points of view of women through media, art and culture, Nine Degrees of Justice: New Perspectives on Violence Against Women in India.

From an early focus on rape, dowry and sati, feminist struggles against violence on women in India have traversed a wide terrain to include issues that were invisible in the1980s. In Nine Degrees of Justice, second- and third-generation feminists share their perceptions on violence against women through a series of thought-provoking essays that establish that justice for women has not even reached double digit figures (hence nine degrees).

Has using the law led to justice for women who face violence? What does ‘justice’ mean for an individual survivor? How can we address violence in public spaces and cyberspace without demonizing either? How do women in armed conflict move from being victims to actors? How can we start to speak about lesbian suicides and violence among women loving women? How do we ensure that women have a ‘right to choose’ when love is seen as a crime? Is prostitution a form of violence against women? What is the violence of stigma? And who is a ‘woman’ deserving representation from the women’s movement? Contributors to the volume include Manjima Bhattacharjya, Shamita Das Dasgupta, Rajashri Dasgupta, Bishakha Datta, Maya Ganesh, Sonia Jabbar, Sharmila Joshi, Purnima Manghnani, Farah Naqvi, PujaRoy, Shilpa Phadke and Mona Zote.

In our Law and Womens Studies sections, in hardcover, 300 pages. Rs 595. ISBN 978818988450