29 September 2019

Student’s article to address sexual violence

Encouraged by her supervisor, University College Utrecht third year student Vedika Luthra took a courageous step and submitted her article on sexual violence to an academic journal. 

Vedika Luthra

The article, provocatively titled “Aliens no more? Addressing Feminist Critiques to Human Rights with Regard to Sexual Violence in the West”, came into being as a by-product of Vedika’s Human Rights Law course work. It was recently published in Journal of Gender and Power, and emerging academic journal issued by the Polish Adam Mickiewicz University. 

“My supervisor Diana Odier-Contreras Garduño brought up the idea after I had done course work on postcolonial feminist criticism. Sexual violence is a prevalent topic, and it caught my interest. The article is for a large part based on a case from the US, which shocked me because it took 300 women who had been sexually abused to get one person on trial. There is still much more understanding in society needed, and women have only now started to speak up.”

The way to Law

That Vedika would take up Human Rights Law was not a given from the start. A student with many interests, Vedika needed her time to decide which direction to go after graduating from school. 

“I went to an American school in Warsaw, the city where I grew up mainly. After graduation, I had planned to go to the United Kingdom to study Literature, but I felt undecisive about it, because I was not ready to commit myself to just one single subject. This led to a last-minute crisis, and I decided to defer my entry. I found out about University College Utrecht, where a friend from Poland was already studying. Her enthusiasm convinced me to apply.”

 “I am glad I took a break before enrolling at University College, because I think I was not ready to go to university right away. It gave me time to decide what I really wanted. I first took Literature here, but I then realised that what I liked about literature was the context behind a work – I was interested in studying the motivation behind actions. This is what I felt was present in both history and law. 

Now a Law and History major, Vedika’s interest is still in the combination of both. “For me, Law is like solving a puzzle. You have facts, and a story, and you have to find out what happened.” 

Like minds

“At University College Utrecht I really started to enjoy and appreciate academia, which I didn’t really have in the past, but I also enjoy the extra-curricular opportunities that campus has to offer. Many people at the college have a similar story”, she says. 

“Here students are very talented, not only academically, but also in their other activities. Everyone has something special in them, and that makes it hard not to compare yourself with others. I know many other students face the same problem.”

Among her interests, Vedika lists a long-time passion for photography. Presently, she is a Board member of the University College Student Association photography committee. 

As this is her third and final year at the college, Vedika is planning her next steps. And again, she still sees various possibilities. She is considering a Master’s study leading to research, or going into Law practice, which would mean a second Bachelor’s study. 

How about your Bachelor’s thesis, Vedika? Do you already have a topic? 

“I would like to select a topic that combines both History and Law. My general topic is how corporations and non-state actors can be held accountable for international crime, but I have no specific topic yet.”

Vedika Luthra, “Aliens no more? Addressing Feminist Critiques to Human Rights with Regard to Sexual Violence in the West.” In: Journal of Gender and Power, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2019. Read the article.