Indian Lawyer Karuna Nundy Warns Patriarchy Is ‘Coming Back Like a Cancer and Metastasizing in Court Judgements’

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Karuna Nundy warned Wednesday that laws designed to restrict the rights of women continue to do harm, thanks to patriarchal courts.

Speaking at the TIME100 Gala in front of a room full of some of the world’s most influential people, Nundy told an emotional story about her work fighting to protect a lesbian woman in a forced marriage, who was being raped by her husband. “We see a version of this story everyday,” Nundy said. “Patriarchy coming back like a cancer and metastasizing in court judgments—at work and in the very spirits and bodies of women and queer folk.” She added that boys and men, Muslims and Dalits, and people with disability also face similar experiences.

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As a lawyer at the Supreme Court of India—and a fierce advocate for the nearly 700 million women in her country—the 2022 TIME100 honoree has fought numerous cases on behalf of individuals who seek justice and truth in the midst of incredible, structural challenges. She raised a toast to these people and all those who pursue light over darkness.

“There is so much an unbounded spirit can do, given half a chance,” she said. “That’s what drives me in the fight to criminalize marital rape, to make laws more just towards women and queer folk.”

Often referred to as a champion of women’s rights, helping reform India’s antirape laws, Nundy continues to lead the fight to criminalize marital rape in her home country and bring individuals to safety.

Returning after two years on pause, the TIME100 Gala is TIME’s annual celebration of the TIME100 list of the world’s most influential people, released this year on May 23. The Gala brings together icons, leaders, change-makers, and celebrities from across industries and nations for one lively evening of meaningful dialogue and celebration. This year’s Gala features live performances from Miranda Lambert and Mary J. Blige, two honorees on the 2022 TIME100 list. Further attendees from this year’s list include actors Andrew Garfield, Ariana DeBose, and Amanda Seyfried, musicians Jazmine Sullivan, Jon Batiste, and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, athlete Eileen Gu, director Taika Waititi, and legal activist Chase Strangio,

TIME is teaming up with ABC to bring viewers inside the exclusive TIME100 Gala for the first time with a special television event. TIME100: The World’s Most Influential People airs Sunday, June 12 at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC, featuring host Simu Liu, director Quinta Brunson, Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musaieva, and more.

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