Equality should begin at home: Manasi Chaudhari, founder of Pink Legal

Chaudhari started Pink Legal in 2020 to help women become more aware of their rights


Inequality at home is what bothers Advocate Manasi Chaudhari the most. Chaudhari, the founder of Pink Legal feels that, while, mostly, women are brought up with love and care by their parents, things change once they get married-- the responsibility of the house, caring for children and elders of the house, falls on the woman. “And a lot of times, this prevents women from furthering their career, putting in more time at work.” 

Chaudhari started Pink Legal in 2020 to help women become more aware of their rights and make the right decisions for themselves. 31-year-old Chaudhari, the granddaughter of a high court judge (Bombay), knew she wanted to be a lawyer since the time she was in school. The Jindal Law School graduate was moved to start Pink Legal after an incident, which took place when she was returning from work one day. “I got into an accident. My car crashed into another car. This was night-time, I was alone and there was no one around. These boys got out of their vehicle, started banging on my car and were being very aggressive.” 

Chaudhari said she was afraid and wasn't sure of what had to be done. But, she did take a picture of the number plate of their vehicle. “Usually in India, we tend to let these things go because we tend to worry about repercussions-- what if they retaliate? My parents were worried too. Being a lawyer, however, I thought I could not let it slide-- if I don't take a stand, there's no hope for someone who has no connection with the law. Also, if I let it slide, those guys would think it is okay to do these kinds of things and there won't be any consequences. So I filed a police complaint-- this was my first time to a police station, that too, alone. I was apprehensive as you hear stories of how the police tend not to take your complaint seriously. And even if a complaint is filed, nothing happens. But, because I know my rights and know what to do, I could get the police to take my complaint, register an FIR, could then track the complaint and follow it up. This experience made me realise that women don't know their rights, and so they aren't able to take any action, and therefore suffer in silence. I wanted to change that, and that's how Pink Legal came into being.”

The organisation, which has a database of lawyers across the country, match callers or women who approach them, as per their needs. And if the woman doesn't have enough means to pay the lawyer, they also have lawyers who consult for a lower fee or no fees. Pink Legal is also tied up with Project Naveli, which is run by Navya Nanda to run Project Nyayri, which makes legal awareness and mental health support accessible for women, pro bono. “Several women have come ahead and filed cases, and their divorces have gone through too,” Chaudhari says.

According to Chaudhari, they mostly get inquiries from women over domestic abuse at the hands of the husband or in-laws. “Then there are also cases of financial abuse, where women are forced to give their salary or a part of it to the in-laws, or she is asked to give her jewellery to the mother-in-law for 'safe-keeping'; or when her own family tries to oust her from the will or deny her inheritance.” The team have many times, also found themselves fighting child custody lawsuits.

Mostly, Chaudhari says, “Women aren't aware of their rights when it comes to instances of domestic violence, mental abuse or financial abuse. It is a husband's duty to give the wife a monthly allowance for her monthly maintenance, something women are often not aware of.” Pink Legal, she says, is in the process of reaching out at the grassroots level. “Currently, there are about 25-30 Pink Legal clubs across India-- these clubs conduct legal awareness workshops and awareness drives, distribute sanitary pads and make women aware of the importance of menstrual hygiene.”

While Pink Legal mainly operates online, they have also partnered with NGOs to reach underprivileged women. According to her, a major reason women in India are still hesitant to get a divorce is because they aren't financially independent. “There is no emotional support either. Parents often don't say that she can come home, but ask her to adjust and carry on, whatever the problem might be. Also, when a woman is financially dependent, she has nowhere to go-- how will she support herself and her child?” “The lower you go on the economic rung, the lesser the chances of a woman opting for a divorce,” she adds. “There is the fear of being ostracised. Before signing off she says, “It is great that we are celebrating Women's Day, and having conversations about women's rights, but it is important to have such conversations every day and think about change to be made as a society to be a constant process.”


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