Careers in Criminology | Kanupriya Sharma, PhD Scholar, Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK

Careers in Criminology | Kanupriya Sharma, PhD Scholar, Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK

hello everyone welcome to the interactive session today i am sauravishvar sen welcoming all of you once more and right at the onset of the session i on behalf of the entire catalyst team uh pray and wish that everyone back at your end including your family members are keeping well and they are safe the start of the session today a little bit about catalyst for everyone’s benefit that at catalyst since 2011 we have been training mentoring and guiding students and working professionals to step up to careers in the social development sector over the years our flagship online training programs which mostly have now gone online at least since the onset of the pandemic they include preparing students from classes 11th and 12th for pursuing bachelors in the social science programs offered by institutions in india as well as abroad preparing mentoring also undergraduates graduates postgraduates working professionals for master’s programs in social sciences offered by similar institutions in india as well as abroad supporting students who are looking for enfield phd in the social science domains across the intersectionalities providing them guidance and mentoring support for networking for research as well as giving them training support for exams including udc net gre toefl or ielts and also since the last five years we have been actively helping guiding and mentoring students with upskilling for social sector jobs employment opportunities as well as fellowships every catalyst alumni over the last 10 years have not only been successful in getting through the opportunities in social science but they have also been flag bearers of the social change and progress that has been in our society for over the years and people from the domain are working with the government with the public and private organizations educational institutions csr policy think tanks civil society organizations social enterprises and many have ventured out on their own to become social entrepreneurs on that note i would like to introduce to all of you our speaker for the day kanu priya sharma and kanu priya thank you so much for being with us today and taking out your time taking out your uh schedule i would say you know from your very very busy research work and to be able to share your perspective with the participants in this very unique interactive session a little bit about kanu priya before we you know uh pass on the baton to her for the session kanakriya completed her undergraduation in psychology honours from punjab university and a postgraduate diploma in new journalism from asian college of journalism chennai after a brief stint as a journalist in 2013 she enrolled for the m.a social work in criminology and justice at the tata institute of social sciences mumbai where she was exposed to the field work across various community and correctional settings post her master’s degree kanupiya worked for more than three years in an anti-human trafficking organization conducting rescue operations of children from sex slavery child labor and bride trafficking and providing them with after-care support in 2017 she went back to academia to pursue an infill in criminological research from the university of cambridge uk the next year kanopir worked as a chief minister fellow with the delhi government mainly involved with formulating policies towards ending violence against women in 2019 she was awarded the prestigious gates cambridge scholarship to pursue a phd in criminology from the university of cambridge connect with congratulations on that note currently kanupri is pursuing her phd in cambridge where she’s exploring the intersection of marriage kinship and resistance in the lives of women prisoners in india her research aims to provide a culturally nuanced understanding of imprisonment through women’s intimate relationships inside and outside prison apart from this kanukriya runs the decolonizing criminology network at cambridge which aims to encourage more scholarly criminological research from the non-west toronto thank you so much for being with us and again like you know showing up so much support towards creating more clarity about the wide prospect which your research work as well as your subject or your expertise or your proficiency and one can actually look at it in so many different ways of criminology for for all the participants including me today right thank you so much for such a generous introduction servicer um uh serviceware and i feel really privileged today to have been invited to a platform like catalyst because i think these platforms are really required in countries like india where criminology is still not recognized as a discipline and where it continues to make its struggle not only you know in all academic disciplines but within social sciences as well so even within social sciences criminology has always been ignored and has been working under the shadows of law or you know social work or social policy and research or public policy or sociology for instance and i feel uh criminology deserves the kind of attention that uh now it’s getting abroad but not in non-western countries like india or south asia in general so thank you so much for inviting me and i’m really excited to see a very um generous audience as well and i’m really thankful to all of you for coming today to attend the session because i feel even if some of you today um are inspired by the talk and want to pursue criminology i think half of my battle for this talk today is done and achieved so uh thank you so much again so i’ll share my screen now and let me know if you’re able to see uh are you able to see just give me a thumbs up if you are i hope you’re all able to share my to see my screen i started the screen sharing now um so yeah as i was saying that today my presentation is on careers in criminology something that i have been wanting to do for a while now of all the talks that i’ve delivered up until today i think this is one of the most interesting and some of the most important talks that i’ve delivered because i feel that criminology needs to be encouraged as a discipline and more people need to pursue this field as one of their academic areas or professional careers so i uh i hope that you can you know take away from this presentation um so you know whenever i it’s whenever somebody asks me what is my career and what i do and i say i’m a criminologist people have a lot of questions and people have a lot of doubts on what i really do people don’t understand what criminology really is and what it entails people often confuse it with sociology law or sometimes people think that i’m a forensic investigator or a cid or a detective or work with cbi so um among all the audience today i want to ask you guys what do you think a criminologist does um [Music] so my next slide is i’m a criminologist so i want to ask you guys what do you think i do as being a criminologist so the options that you have please type type your responses in the chat box and i can see them uh i a i have been solving crimes so i’m part of the cid cbi i’m a detective or you know working as an fbi agent b i do something in relation to law so i work with lawyers i attend court hearings and you know um something to do with law basically c is i read criminal mind and behavior so basically i talk to criminals and then i read their mind i observe their behavior and that’s what my job really entails or is it completely something else so um okay i’m having some of their responses okay so most of the responses that i can see i can give you a few more seconds if you want yeah all the above can be an option totally okay okay great so um i can see that a lot of you have actually typed c as one of the responses that i read criminal mind and behavior and some of them said that you know everything except tea so i help in solving crimes i do something in relation to law and i read criminal mind and behavior so for all of you who don’t really know what i really do i i do something in relation to all of these things but not really all of these things so which means i’m not an fbi agent i’m not a detective a cid or a cbi i do not exactly do something in relation to law because lawyers are very well versed and academically profound to perform their jobs and criminologists don’t need to enter that area i do not read criminal mind and behavior because again that’s a part of criminal psychology and psychologists do that and not really criminologists so what do criminology really entail then what israeli criminology so before i say what it is let me break some of the myths that are surrounding criminology so criminology has been synonymously used with subjects such as forensic science criminalistic scientific crime detection so people who think i work with the cbi or cid actually i do not do that because forensic science and scientific crime detectives do that job uh so there’s a big difference between what a criminologist does and what a forensic investigator does a forensic investigator basically collects documents preserves and examines the physical evidence on the crime scene criminologists don’t do that so we do not enter the crime scene and we do not observe the forensic and we do not collect physical evidence of the crime and we don’t don’t collect blood samples and fingerprints or dna testing and blood and tissue spatter because all of these things are done by actually a scientific crime detective which is a forensic investigator uh criminalistics is a very very interesting field that has now come up within forensic science so it’s actually a sub-discipline of forensic science where people learn how to gather such kind of evidence and to do such a degree and to be very well versed with the kind of profession of collecting evidence you require a degree in natural science so basically people who are actually working as forensic investigators go on to do a scientific degree so they do um a bsc in science or they do a base in physics biology or chemistry or sometimes in forensic science particularly and that is how they collect evidence and that is how they know how to test samples a criminologist on the other hand does not do that um many people think that i do criminal law now criminal law is actually a sub-stream within law so people who study law specialize in criminal law and criminal law is basically a study of law that constitutes what is crime so whether you are reading section 370 section 376 302 all of these things criminologists do not study lawyers study so criminal law is something that comes within the ambit of law and not necessarily criminology but it is very important to understand that both of these streams are very well related to each other so if you have a proficiency in law if you have a prior knowledge of law i think it’s beneficial in criminology but it’s not exactly what a criminologist does third criminal psychology a lot of times people actually ask me that that you interact with prisoners and you do a lot of prison research so you must be knowing what kind of behavior do they have and why do they commit crime what goes on inside their mind i’m not a criminal psychologist and basically i’m a criminologist and uh so when i talk to prisoners i don’t really understand what’s going on in their mind so i don’t read their mind i don’t go behind what is their psychology what is their behavior thoughts or emotions whether they have mental health issues or whether they are predisposed to a certain kind of criminal tendency that is not the kind of job that i do as a criminologist because that is the work and that’s specialized criminal psychologists now this is again a very interrelated feeling to criminology because people who pursue criminal psychology sometimes often end up doing a phd in criminology now i know a lot of my colleagues who have been trained in psychology i myself have been trained in psychology in my bachelor’s and then i went on to do criminology as a specialization that doesn’t necessarily mean that i’m a criminal psychologist because i really do not look at their behaviors and i really do not understand the minds and what goes on in their psychological benefit when they commit a crime because if you want to pursue that kind of an area of research you really need to pursue criminal psychology which is another stream and discipline that people do within psychology so if you pursue bachelor’s in psychology then a master’s in psychology and then a phd in psychology perhaps you could take one of your research areas as criminal psychology and then you might understand what are the mental health issues that prisoners are facing today or what what are the mental health issues that victims face when you know a violent act happens to them um such kind of things do not enter the realm of criminology per se so many of you must be wondering that i’ve told everything that criminology is not but what is then criminology so criminology is a study of crime and delinquent behavior including causation correction prevention and impact on society so what we really study is crime in the context of society so what we try to study in a layman term is that why does crime occur in what circumstances and what socio-economic religious cultural circumstances does crime occur and how can we prevent such a crime to be occurring in future how do we how does correctional institutions treat such offenders and treat victims of crime what are the institutional responses to crime so um how do criminal justice agency respond to people who have offended or people who are victims of crime so suppose i have committed a heinous crime such as murder when i enter a court how does the magistrate treat me how does a police uh uh personal treat me what happens when i go into police station so the aftermath of a crime in the context of society and in the context of institutions that the offenders are dealing with is something that criminologists study um the nature character and conditions of custodial institutions so a lot of research nowadays has been going on on what are the conditions of police station on custodial torture so you must have heard a lot of news stories about people um ended up being murdered in police stations or um you know committing suicides in prisons or uh you know getting tortured under police protection or in prisons as well so all of this also comes under the ambit of criminology so this is also something that criminologists study because this is also in context of society and not necessarily criminal law because the law can say one thing but criminal just study that this is what law says but how is it implementation going on in the society how is it implemented in real life in reality what happens so there’s something called as rule of law but it’s something called as implementation and what is the effect of that implementation on the offender and the victim board and what happens to the society so when the offender gets released from prison what is the impact that uh you know the offence is having on the offender so you know um there’s one thing that you know an offender commits crime but there’s another thing that he gets released in the society how does the society reacts to crime how does the society react to that offender is something that criminologists study and something that i’m also very much interested in um so these are all the things that criminologists study a lot of research has also gone into violence into organized forms of criminality which means human trafficking smuggling drug peddling and all of that also falls within the ambit of criminology so basically anything and everything that’s connected to crime delinquent behavior and society’s response to crime is something that criminology entails so what is the eligibility criteria of pursuing such a subject many people would think that in if you want to pursue criminology you must be trained in criminology as a discipline in your bachelor’s or in your master’s but that is not a necessity at all so if you are in your 12 standard and you’re entering or you know you’re looking for prospects for your bachelor’s um there is there are some universities which offer a bachelor’s in criminology though they are not very renowned and they’re not very many in india so um which is also a reason why i pursued psychology also because i didn’t know that time that i was interested in criminology and so anybody who has an interest in criminology in crime in criminal behavior in delinquent behavior and what is society’s response to crime can pursue criminology in any of their um phases in career so whether it’s bachelor’s whether it’s masters or whether it’s phd you can pursue criminology at any point of your academic timeline so there’s no straight jacketed career path to pursuing criminology as a discipline so if you have studied bachelors in public policy if you’ve started bachelor’s in social work uh even in sciences so even if you are you’ve done an engineering degree but you’re still interested in understanding how crime happens and what do criminals really think why do they commit crime you can still pursue a masters in criminology if you have a master’s in psychology and you have a master’s in social work social policy in anthropology in sociology you can still pursue a phd in criminology because you still have somewhat specialized knowledge about the subject because criminology constitutes is not it’s not a discipline that came about in itself it’s a discipline that’s an offshoot of various other disciplines so if are trained in any other discipline which is related or remotely related to criminology whether it’s sociology political science geography economics social work social policy uh psychology psychiatry you can still pursue criminology in any of your stages uh so this is my career timeline um as you can see um in 2011 like very rightly mentioned by uh cerveza i completed my ba in psychology honors from punjab university in 2012 i went to asian college of journalism because at that point of time i was very much interested in pursuing a degree in journalism and i wanted to be a journalist because it i wanted to do something meaningful i wanted to reach out to a larger target audience and i wanted to have an impact so with that big idea in mind i entered journalism um i passed out my degree in journalism the same year and i started working as a sub editor in hindustan times but um only working there uh for you know just one year i realized that journalism is not my cup of tea and because i was i was on the crime desk at that point of time i was hearing a lot of crime stories coming to my desk and i was editing them so in the process of editing uh i kind of like developed an interest in criminology and i thought that why do people really end up committing or crying because a lot of stories were coming from police stations a lot of custodial torture was happening and at that point of time if you remember in 2012 the nearby gang rape happened and um a lot of the reporters in hindustan times were covering uh that incident um and and somewhat in the media coverage of that crime i realized that how unethical media can be and that kind of kind of diminished my interest in media and i started pursuing um and i thought that i would pursue a proper degree in social work and criminology in 2013 i completed my m.a social work in criminology and justice from tardiness to the social sciences um the experience was wonderful because i got an opportunity to actually work in the field of criminology in correctional settings so i was placed in tane prison for over an year where i worked on the issue of legal aid for prisoners i used to enter the prison interview or prisoners and basically um fetch them lawyers people who didn’t have lawyers to represent their case i would actually work with the legal aid department and would get them lawyers in prison that kind of ensued my interest in the field of prison research and so as a part of my master’s dissertation i interviewed women in punjab prisons on how do they contemplate the life outside prison and uh from there on my journey with correctional settings just began and i and i just like then there was no going back in 2016 uh 17 i worked as an associate in justice and care where i worked with an anti-human trafficking organization in rescuing children from child labour domestic servitude or bribe trafficking sexual exploitation i worked with a lot of children of sexual abuse and tried to provide aftercare support to them so right from education uh skill development employment to taking care of their families providing them with counseling help accompanying them to courts and providing them with all kinds of physical mental and social support was kind of my role in the organization um but then i was again kind of like um attracted towards academia and i thought that i should do my infinite criminological research cambridge being one of the most renowned universities offering such a program i applied there fortunately got admitted and uh went on to do my mphill and criminological research with the manual lobe israeli scholarship now this scholarship is really interesting because it offers uh people from developing countries a chance to pursue criminology and i was lucky enough to have that kind of a scholarship with me when i went on to do my mfil after doing my mfil i took an ear gap and i actually became the chief minister fellow with the delhi government so there’s a fellowship of the delhi government that i pursued and it was a really really interesting experience because then i got to understand uh the mechanisms of state actors what goes behind in making a policy and because i was stationed with the delhi commission for women i actually worked with a lot of like women survivors of domestic violence of asset attack of sexual exploitation human trafficking and actually got to work on policies that are related to such fields and my degree in criminology kind of helped me with that critical bent of mind to understand policies to understand what goes behind making these policies and um and to basically because i had already worked in both correctional settings and had also worked with victims so i knew what exactly is needed in a policy what exactly do survivors of such offenses need and what uh goes on you know in the minds of the survivor or you know victim of sexual abuse and that really helped me in in in my stint as a fellow in the delhi government after that i was lucky enough to get a prestigious gates cambridge scholarship which is a full-fledged scholarship or for a phd degree offered by the gates trust um and currently i’m doing a phd in criminology at the university of cambridge um my phd research currently aims at exploring women’s imprisonment and post imprisonment experiences through the lens of their heterosexual intimate relationships so in a layman term what i do is i go in prison i interview women about their intimate relationships with male prisoners with male prison guards and prospective men outside so i do not interview them about their relationships with their husbands but the new relationships that they have formed after coming to prison and this is something that i explored during my years of field work in in prisons and um i observed that how women even inside prison exercise agency in choosing their own marital partners and even in such despair and in such sadness they manage to survive and uh by you know through these intimate relationships that they form so my current phd research focus on the kind of networks that they rely on to find such partners and the interesting ways that they connect with these relationships so you know many times women have actually shared their love letters with me that they exchange with male prisoners um you know the kind of experiences that they have had in court lockups where they have managed to uh you know form these relationships with many prisoners because a lot of people ask me that how can women make relationships within prison and and that’s the interesting question that my phd addresses that what kind of illegal yet interesting ways that uh women resort to within confinement to find these relationships that ultimately become their soul support systems when everything else you know breaks down so a lot of women when they go inside prison they don’t have uh family support systems a lot of time their husbands leave them their children leave them and then in such extenuating circumstances they rely on these alternate social networks and these relationships with male prisoners so my research um is an actually ethnographic research and it involves a lot of in-depth qualitative interviews with over 150 women offenders i’ve already managed to interview over 100 women offenders across punjab and rajasthan women’s prisons so a lot of my field work actually goes in going inside prisons interviewing women at length and on an average i spend across six to seven hours in prison daily interacting with prison staff interacting with prison inmates and it’s not easy because it’s very very challenging because um it’s very difficult for women to open up about their life histories and about their criminal life histories with me and why did they end up in prison and about their love stories inside prison which i’m trying to explore and so a lot of times to get them to open up to me and to build that kind of rapport i i do english speaking classes with them i organized a lot of gender sensorization workshops with them a lot of art workshops so i employ a variety of different techniques with women to get them to open up about their life stories because i feel that it’s a selfish exercise but just sit there and you know interview them without giving them anything in return so um these days have been you know organizing a series of workshops inside prisons and it’s been a phenomenal experience and something that i think needs to um be explored not only by me as a researcher but by many professional uh people in the field of criminology as well um and a lot of voluntary initiatives i’ve been involved in um i have been a founder and convener of cambridge decolonizing criminology network which is a very interesting network so um people who do not know about criminology would not understand uh the technique and the uh technical uh skills that come with the decolonizing criminology initiative so um just to explain it simply it’s basically criminology has been a very western dominated discipline so if you look at its development if you look at its stance even today it’s dominated by western scholarship it it was founded by western scholars and european scholars and it still remains a very eurocentric discipline so a lot of research within criminology comes from us uk or europe and this lack of criminological scholarship say from india nepal pakistan bhutan bangladesh latin america africa or even middle east so the cambridge decolonizing criminology network aims to boost scholarship from these countries from countries of the global south so um we try to uh you know invite speakers invite guests from all these uh various countries where chronological scholarship has been uh dominantly lacking and we encourage people to discuss how we can encourage more scholarship from these areas about how we can uh you know put colonialism as a center of contemporary criminological debate because a lot of times we forget that you know people or countries who have been colonized how is criminology developed in those countries because it’s been largely influenced by uk scholarship so the cambridge decolonizing criminology network tries to uh delve into those kind of areas um i also do a lot of like um raising funds so in in the in the middle of the second wave i was kind of using public platforms and crowdsourcing platforms to raise funds for punjab prison department to um raise money for ko with kids that got distributed ultimately to correctional staff and prisoners like um i also ran a four week long counselling initiative with covet positive patients across two prisons that is lutheran and malayalam where we were a team of nine volunteers who were professionally trained in counseling and we went we didn’t go inside the prisons but we were conducting these counseling sessions through video conferencing inside covet special jails with covet positive patients and again it was a very very very eye opening experience to understand how prisoners are fleeing amidst the second wave within prison and being detected over positive so there are like multiple layers um and uh it was it was extremely energizing as well because then you feel uh that within the confinement as well how prisoners are being treated how covet positive prisoners have been treated how they think how they’re being stigmatized by the prison staff by the prison department and how much is needed within this field um and how much how how much scope there is in general uh so why pursue criminology so i’ve told you a lot about technical things about what i do and uh what criminology really entails but why should you pursue criminology why should anyone pursue criminology firstly i think it gives you a huge opportunity to work in challenging sessions with social actors and institutions dealing with crime law and justice so um with years of working in this field now i realized that i would never have chosen any other alternate field because it’s such a challenging setting it challenges you in the most oddest unique and exciting of ways because you’re interacting with criminal enforcement agencies like law enforcement agencies you’re constantly interacting with courts with police stations with police people with magistrates with the prison staff um and all of this while seems challenging is so important because uh in today’s time when we know that a lot of minorities a lot of people a lot of vulnerable communities end up inside prisons end up inside custodial homes end up inside these care homes a lot of destitute people as well so um the role of criminologists becomes all the more important because we are the only ones who are accessing these systems we are the only ones who get the opportunity to go inside these systems to make change happen in reality and i think that if there are more criminologists and if there are more people working in the field of criminology there will be more people entering the field the more people um interacting with the system there’s a lot of change that can happen a lot of um people who do not deserve to be in these institutions can actually come out can actually come out of this and can get rehabilitated within society so i feel um there’s a lot more that can be done in this field and there are a lot more people needed in this field a lot more people from different backgrounds different educational backgrounds who can offer expertise and who can make who can reform the criminal justice system uh i also feel that criminology enhances your analytical and critical thinking abilities um leaving aside any other social science discipline i i can i’m not a good commentator on that but uh i feel as a criminologist my analytical and critical thinking abilities are much more sharper because i constantly have to keep my mind active i constantly have to apply that critical bend of mind whenever i’m dealing with state actors with agencies and with people who are in custodial institutions like prisons or care homes or police stations or courts because all the time you have to keep your radar on like there’s nothing else that you can do inside the prison there’s so much going on like um when you enter a prison you’re not only into being a prisoner you’re also observing what goes around that right so a lot of times when i interview prisoner there there’s the prison staff there’s a presence of a prison staff member always and there’s always like comments coming from that side there’s always something going on here where you know there are people going in and out the people who are also listening to those stories there are people who are commenting on the prison administration um there are illegal things happening so you also kind of witness corruption inside these institutions and this always like you cannot keep your mind off these things and so suddenly you become this anal you develop these analytical and critical thinking abilities that are really really required in the profession as well like i’ve always already mentioned ability to impact and improve lives of vulnerable communities and population criminology has that effect i really urge people to join this field because there are very few people even within the broader realm of social work who work within settings like criminology because it’s really challenging firstly you do not get access nobody will give you access in a prison right you cannot just walk up outside the prison and say you know today i just want to interview a prisoner i just want to see what a prison feels like right because access is so difficult many people do not pursue this field because you cannot get access to the population you’re trying to study you need connects you need connections to the prison administration you need connections to the academic staff you need to open your own organization or you need to work with ngos that have that kind of access so that kind of limits people who pursue criminology even people who are studying human trafficking child sexual exploitation or sex slavery uh and all other and you know the victim side of the criminal justice system i feel many times people really get uh affected uh by hearing stories of uh sexual violence of such heinous crimes that they eventually um that they eventually just feel that they want to leave the field or they eventually do not pursue this field in terms of like directly connecting with the target audience but they kind of go in research or they kind of go in public policy because that’s still uh that still means that you’re not interacting with the audience directly and i feel um and i feel because you need such resilience and mental strength to work in a feeling like criminology many people just opt out of it and i feel that’s that’s a shame because if nobody is actually going on the field and in doing target audiences like these how will change happen uh so i really urge uh some of you or all of you today who wants to make change happen and who wants to reform the criminal justice system to actually pursue criminology because it will give you such a diverse viewpoint which no other field can ever give you skills required to be a criminologist you really need specialized knowledge of the subject area so it’s not like i go into the field and i don’t know what happens in the public policy domain i need to know my policies i need to know the jail manual i need to know the international conventions constitution legal provisions i need to know what 302 is that he’s in for murder i need to know what this means right i cannot be asking the prisoner every time it’s there so you need specialized knowledge so when i say law and criminology is interrelated that’s because you know you cannot separate law from criminology and you cannot separate criminology from law because when you enter the field and people talk about their offenses you need some knowledge of law and that comes uh you know while you’re working on the field you really do not need a degree in law you don’t need an llb um an empathy and sensitivity towards target population i feel this is the most most important skill that a criminologist needs so when i enter the field i cannot be non-empathetic and i cannot be non insensitive towards my target population whether i’m interacting with human trafficking survivors whether i’m interacting with prisoners whether i’m interacting with the prison staff i cannot be insensitive i have sometimes you just have to open your mind you need to reflect on your own personal biases because a lot of time your personal advice has come in the way for instance um the other day i was interacting with the prisoner who was who was convicted for gang rape now being a woman being staunchly against uh offenses uh like rape or sexual offenses in general if you’re interacting with a prisoner and you have those personal biases in mind you would not be able to interact with him because you will not be able to see what goes on in his life you’ll not be able to see the social context in which that crime is being committed and that is what a criminology study you don’t really understand why he committed gang rape but in what context in what socio-economic contexts was that crime committed in the first place what was his childhood history what was his mental health issue what was his childhood like what was his parents doing and all of these things you need to take into consideration when you are interacting with you know an offender and so sometimes you really need to be non-judgmental and you have to have extreme sensitivity towards people you are interacting with um so a lot of times when you know a lot of my colleagues have shared that when they have interacted with sexual abuse survivors because they have been sexual abuse victims themselves at some point of time because almost one-third of all women have been uh you know sexually abused at some point in their life it’s very difficult to separate those feelings when you’re interacting with a sexual abuse survivors because it’s very very natural that those feelings kind of like overpower your emotions and then you know you’re not able to perform your job well but these are some of the things that you learn when you start pursuing this field when you start really um interacting with actors in the field so it comes with experience it comes with understanding the various social contexts it comes with understanding criminological theories that go behind this field so i i really feel that those are the skills that are required to be a criminologist i think passion is something that will really drive you to stay in this field for a long time um because that’s what has helped me uh towards making a difference in the lives of people there are times when i come back home i’m really really tired exhausted by hearing all of those stories sometimes you’re emotionally exhausted as well there are times when you know i go out of the prison i cry and then i come back again and interview people because a lot of their stories resonate with yours as well a lot of those childhood traumas remind you of things of your past or remind you of you know general social crimes and you know the general social status of our society but but that’s how this field is it challenges you in the most um exhaustive of ways and then mental agility comes into play and resilience comes into play and then you know that is the drive that actually helps you within this field um so career options a lot of people ask me so what you’re doing all this brilliant research in prisons and you know interacting with prisoners where will this take you um so these are some of the options that i can avail or anybody of you who pursues criminology can avail um the first is academic research policy research or professorship so some of my colleagues and uh some of people i know who are pursuing criminology or who exemp who have done exemplary research in the field outside and in india pursue policy research so a lot of them are working as policy consultants with very famous organizations with very famous human rights organization amnesty international chri to name a few there’s unhrc there’s unodc there’s uh you and women uh a lot of gender-based uh organizations many of them have actually taken the academic route have done a phd then a post rate and then eventually became an assistant professor then a professor a lot of them are still working with a community based organization ngos working on legal aid rehabilitation of victims of trafficking sexual exploitation prison reforms rehabilitation of prisoners and families i myself being a criminologist i’m now in the process of opening my own organization that works on rehabilitation of prisoners and their families um so a lot of career opportunities if you are an entrepreneur you can open your own organization if you want to work with or with an organization that’s an option if you want to go into academia publish papers publish research that’s an option i know criminologists who have gone to journalism and have now writing brilliant pieces on criminal justice policies on on prisons on how custodial torture on police torture on terrorism on war against uh children on childrens of prisoners so there’s so many other avenues that you can go to um there’s a lot of juvenile justice based organizations as well which works on juvenile justice works on observation homes so the on one hand is prisons which houses adult prisoners and then there’s observation homes which houses juveniles in prisons so a lot of people have actually gone to those organizations they’re child rights based organizations as well um save the children um and a lot more there’s i mean cry and everything so basically everything is open for a criminologist because when once you are trained as a criminologist you have those critical thinking abilities and that bent of mind to look at a societal view to look at a broader view of crime i think uh it really puts you on an edge as compared to other applicants so when i go for an interview so when i was interviewing for my uh chief minister delhi fellowship um i remember there were like so many hundreds and thousands of applicants and there were only 25 24 people that were selected for that fellowship and um me being a criminologist really added value to my interview because the things that i could say about crime the things that i could say about how we should reform the criminal justice system or how prisons should operate or how people should be treated or how victims should be treated by institutions because there’s a lot of stigma around victims as well so i think that really helped me in the interview process so wherever you go being a criminologist would always put you in a better position as compared to other applicants now these are some of the fields that i feel that people who specialize in criminology can take so if you can look at the above three options um they are the sub disciplines of criminology so a lot of people do not say that they are just a criminologist sometimes people say there are neuro criminologists or they pursue pathology now phenology also means a study of prisons the study of penal institutions so which includes prisons which includes courts which includes police stations anything to do with punishment and crime is what penology deals with neuro criminology this is a very very exciting upcoming field anybody who’s interested in biology and criminology this is the best combination so a lot of people who pursue sciences in their bachelor’s and masters as well go on to do neuro criminology because they link brain mapping to how a person is predisposed to crime so they basically do all kind of brain mapping techniques to establish how certain biological traits or certain um functioning in the brain can actually make you more violent as compared to other people so that is a very very exciting field that people can pursue then there’s victimology victimology is basically a study of victims of crime and how victims and offenders are related uh how does agencies and institutions um basically respond to victims of crime and this is a very very upcoming field uh victimology is also struggling because it also wants to dissuade itself from criminology and become a separate field of its own because it has a lot of scope and people who do not necessarily want to study offenders can actually study victimology and can pursue that specialization once they enter criminology so all of these things you can study within criminology and once you have you’ve done with your masters in criminology in your phd or in your further specialization you can pursue any of these streams uh below are the theoretical approaches so when i say theoretical approaches of criminology so uh criminology comes from various standpoints i know many criminologists that are advocates of death penalty and many criminologists that are absolutely against departing now both are criminologists so there’s no one standpoint of criminology that people take people who are four victims often are for death penalty and are advocates for death penalty people who do not pursue victimology and who pursue offender rights are often against death penalty so there’s no one theoretical approach that criminology has and you can see critical criminology is one of the most important and upcoming fields of criminology again because it not only deals with why crime happens but critical criminology basically applies a very critical lens to how crime basically happens because criminal justice agencies are also not able to reform criminals in the right way so it’s basically takes a very critical lens to criminal justice institutions to prisons to uh courts and how do they operate and treat offenders and ultimately because they are not able to rehabilitate them in the society is why they keep reoffending so critical criminology is again a very upcoming food southern criminology is very close to decolonizing criminology like i said a lot of chronological research coming from the west southern criminology is one stream that advocates for research coming from the global south so it encourages a lot of scholarship from south asian countries from australia from latin america from africa middle east because it wants chronological scholarship from that end and it says that maybe it’s time that criminology should be more diverse and maybe globally more um inclusive as it is today cultural criminology again very interesting something very close to what i do uh basically it places crime in a very cultural context so if you even if you see crimes in india today um so i’ve been interviewing a lot of women offenders in rajasthan and i observe that a lot of women commit crime because they have been victims of crime as well in the past so a lot of women have actually been victims of domestic violence and after suffering years of abuse they end up murdering their husband now there’s a thin overlap between victim and offender when does a victim become an offender and when does an offender become a victim many people would say because she was a victim of domestic violence that led to her committing a crime in a cultural context like india which is really patriarchal and which puts women in a very submissive position and a very um and puts man in a very dominant position i feel that a lot of crimes committed by women happens because of that very reason because a lot of community pressure that you can’t divorce your husband that you cannot leave your husband that you have to endure the marital abuse for as long as you can and and that kind of you know forces women to commit crime in the first place so committing crime like dowry committing crime like female infanticide female feticide it all comes from a very cultural and societal context and cultural criminology deals with that feminist criminology again applies a very gender lens to criminology it deals with everything women uh so women in criminal justice system women who are victims of crime why do women commit crime uh feminist criminology is also a very very upcoming field has been there since long since feminism came into play feminist criminology also took the standpoint of feminism and developed a strand of its own green criminology is interesting because it looks at environmental crimes queer criminology is something that looks at lgbtq issues how does the lgbtq people or population being treated by the criminal justice system is something which is now being highlighted something which is now coming up and i think it’s really important because there’s a lot of transgender population as well in prisons which has largely been invisible largely being ignored even within prison research so i feel that this is again an upcoming field um despite me you know going on and on about how great criminology is as a discipline and how we should all pursue it how it has the ability to impact a larger wider audience what is the current challenge for criminology why can’t we pursue criminology like why criminology is still not recognized why do we still have only like few courses of criminology there’s no masters in criminology as such and nobody has ever heard about crimology until they are within the social science discipline so i think one of the major challenges is it’s a very relatively new discipline like i said it was an offshoot of sociology developed in the late 18th century so sociology developed anthropology developed psychology developed and through all these disciplines finally criminology developed criminology was not recognized as a discipline for as long as i can remember so earlier criminologists were all sociologists in the first place and very later in the stage of sociology was criminology recognized as a separate discipline um so criminology has struggled and is still struggling to find its place within the social science discipline as well it’s not recognized as a separate discipline at all so even if you see abroad even at university of cambridge even at university of oxford it still falls under the faculty of law many people cannot understand that law and criminology are completely different disciplines and need different kind of resources and different kind of mindsets law is a very very technical discipline where you know you pursue law and um there’s a lot of like constitution and a lot of like facts it’s based on facts and figures whereas criminology deals with the sociological aspect of criminalization and criminal aspect so i think that kind of a difference is missing uh when it comes to a layman understanding why criminology should be recognized as a separate discipline and i feel that um there is very very little universities even abroad who recognize this difference even in this for instance uh criminology is not separate it falls within the bracket of social work whereas psychology is separate so psychology m a in psychology m a in counseling psychology i mean clinical psychology is separate than social work but within social work there’s criminology so whereas i feel that it’s time that ma in criminology should be offered as a course separate than immense of social work um still in nation stages in many developing countries like i said in the global south in south asian countries criminology is unheard of something which still runs behind the shadows of other disciplines so i think this is the main challenge as to why it’s still not recognized it’s not a straight jacketed career path not considered as lucrative appropriate for a long time i had to convince my family members as well as to why i’m pursuing this field people still feel and even when is what is still existent in india so in an indian context for women to pursue a discipline like criminology is still a big taboo because as a woman you can’t be endiving offenders of gang rape you can’t be interviewing men in prison right and which is why i have had a lot of challenges in having access and male prisons and which is why my phd research also focuses on women because partly because it’s needed partly because access is really difficult um these are some of the criminology courses that are offered in india so anybody who wants to pursue an so i didn’t know i don’t know what is the range of audience people want to pursue a bachelor’s or a master’s but bachelor’s programs are very very few and they’re not very renowned and i wouldn’t recommend doing a bachelor’s in criminology straight away because i feel a bachelor’s in any other social discipline or a general bachelor’s in arts will give you um more career option in case you do not want to pursue criminology in future and it will not limit your career path so do a general bachelor’s and a major in psychology or other fields and then pursue a master’s in criminology because then you will have a more mindset to pursue criminology like that but if you’re still sure go ahead and buzz your bachelor’s uh though i don’t know many bachelor courses i’m so sorry um studying abroad um so catalyst asked me to like put some light on how do we pursue criminology abroad um it’s really challenging because as i said even outside india it’s not recognized as a discipline on its own i am the first criminologist or a first person who is studying criminology on a gay scholarship and doing a phd at cambridge so imagine how many few people do criminology from india abroad so i’m the only phd student ever from india in criminology um so studying abroad has its own challenges you need very good academic records if you need to be in a good university um it’s very important you explore your interests so if um for a phd or for a master’s level degree you need to be very very sure as to what really you want to pursue if you want to do prison research they are very they are universities which are very good in prison research if you want to do victimology violence research there are universities which specialize in that so you need to really make a mind of what your interest area is and then follow that um you need excellent academic references so make sure that once you are in the field uh you’re performing well you make good connects with your professors because that really helps you in your applications uh work experience this is very very important what puts me at an edge as compared to other applicants and what puts me um on a better standpoint is because i have relevant work experience in the past i have worked in prisons for as long as i can remember i have worked in the human trafficking field as well which means that i have an understanding of the victims side as well and this really puts me um on a better position as compared to other applicants when it comes to applying abroad because what they see is how much voluntary experience do you have how much work experience do you have how much field knowledge do you have you can’t just like go and do a masters in criminology or an infilling criminology just because you’ve done a bachelor’s in criminology no i would really recommend if you want to study abroad please work in the field for considerable years get an understanding of the field and then pursue a course abroad because then you will make the most out of it and they would also admit you with the scholarship so i guess i’m done i would just encourage you all to pursue this field i know it’s been little technical because criminology is very complicated in its discipline and i really wanted to give you a gist of everything so um questions are welcome and thank you so much for listening wow wow uh i i feel uh of course we are absolutely open to questions confirmed and uh a very interesting thing that strikes my mind as you have been able to share some pretty deep insights i hope uh the other participants would also be agreeing with me um since one point which comes by and we are opening the question and answer questions to the audience that feel free to ask questions um one interesting thing which uh comes to my mind and i hope it also strikes the others too is that kind of we keep on talking off during our counseling sessions at catalyst about so many opportunities which are getting over saturated in our country like you know there are like people who are taking that type of a course or you know then finally working in that specific manner and that has multiplied to such a big extent that we are now talking of say those programs getting oversaturated on the other hand criminology as per your your perspective is still such a huge untapped zone we discovered that you are the first um gates scholar uh to pursue a program so again like you know congratulations to that on one note but also like it on the other hand it also uh intrigues us to know from your end the level of demand which kanopra you feel um the society is now opening up to criminologists like you know what would you like to add to an already very insightful session that you just concluded with us uh so if i understand your question correctly it hovers around how what does society demand from a criminologist advice yes yes um so like i’ve mentioned uh some of it in my presentation as well in india today the criminal justice system is incomplete shutters where we can see that people from vulnerable communities adivasis talents denotified tribes people from minorities people who do not have the socio-economic resources they are the people who end up in conflict with the criminal justice system they are the people who end up in conflict with law on the victim side as well i feel that people uh people who do not have the resources to fight their case people uh who do not have the socio-economic power to actually get into the police station and you know live freely without trauma i think i think those are the people who end up within the criminal justice system and then our responsibility as a criminologist increases manifold because there our role comes into picture um i think social i think this also started social work in criminology with the same intent because it thought that there’s a need for social workers within criminal justice settings to address these issues to to help rehabilitate such population to help people you know to help such people access resources like legal aid uh you know because i have in my in my years of experience understood that once one person ends up in conflict with law it’s not just the person the secondary prisonization of the family happens with that person so the family suffers and the stigma of being incarcerated doesn’t leave until the end of your life so how do we deal with that as a society which puts so much pressure on offenders which stigmatizes offenders which stigmatizes offenders even after they have completed 14 years of imprisonment that society needs a criminologist because they need to understand that these people deserve to be rehabilitated into the society these people deserve to enter re-enter the society because they are capable of reform and not every person who commits a crime is an offender this uh there’s this very interesting quote that i uh read in one of the prisons that i visited which is which is a very profound code but how many people believe in it because it’s very difficult to remove the crime from the individual and to see the individual as it is and as a criminologist we have the capacity to do that so if there are more criminologists in the country and society has more criminologists i feel the society would also understand criminologists would um make the society understand what would help uh make this awareness that you know crime doesn’t happen by an individual it’s the it’s the whole society to be blamed it’s our cultural expectations it’s it’s our communal roots to be blamed because at the end the individual is a part of the society and it has to return back to its society so it’s the society who has to understand that uh every person is capable of reform and criminal i i just hope that one day happens that we don’t need social workers and criminologists but uh in today’s situation the only way that you know uh such a gap could be bridged is by a criminologist if i you know write about these things if i make people aware about these things i think the society would be made aware that you know they should contribute more towards this reform right thank you so much uh that that truly um sums up the essence of the uh demand for uh criminologists in our society we have like last five minutes uh effectively um we didn’t really realize that you know we spent an hour it felt like a breeze uh hearing the stories from kanukriya so anyone in the participants if you would like to use your microphone and ask a question directly to canton priya you’re most welcome to do that so i think uh rohit is trying to yes rohit go ahead we can’t hear you uh am i audible yes you are go ahead okay man uh so ma’am you are you learned like a basic theory in your uh main criminology and when you went into prison or institutions like was there any difference in the implementation and do you know any organizations which can give experience to those people who are interested to pursue a career into this field hi thank you so much for your question um see theory that’s a very interesting question because um of course i read basic theoretical approaches of criminology during my master’s and at this as well and during my m phil in criminological research at cambridge as well a lot of it resonates when you go in the fields because then you can start you know joining the dots and you see that whatever you read in class is actually true is you know imprisonment um and you know the theories of prison and why people commit crime they’re often very much related to theory but of course the implementation the challenges on the field are very unique and something which theory cannot uh address in its own because theories are very universal and um i often argue that you know theories uh are based on western contexts so a lot of theories of criminology or sociology that you hear or study today were based on the context of the 19th century but based on context of the crime that happened then in western societies so in our society in india the crimes that take place and the nature of crimes that take place like there’s a lot of drug trafficking in punjab there’s a lot of like dowry crimes in punjab you will never hear of dowry crime in in in the uk or in the us or in or in germany right so these are all very contextual so then the theories do fail because then you start to realize the gap in criminological literature and the gap maybe non-western researchers should fill by you know kind of researching on all those areas which are not yet been addressed by western scholarship so of course there’s a gap between theory and practicality um i think uh the second question about organizations that you can volunteer with uh yes this prayas in bombay it also depends on which areas you’re located a lot of organizations are in mumbai and in delhi uh these are the two to and and some are in kolkata as well and in bangalore but not many most organizations are in delhi and bombay in bombay this runs its own project um under the department which is prayas and it’s a very good organization it actually goes people you can volunteer with that organization you get a chance to go inside prisons and help them um so basically they do a lot of work on legal aid they do a lot of work on rehabilitation on connecting prisoners with their families so as you must be knowing that if you enter a prison and because there’s so much stigma with imprisonment that you often lose your family connections in the middle so prayas helps you bridge those family gaps so it actually helps people reconnect with their families after being inside prison there’s also india vision foundation which is run by kiran baby uh which operates in delhi i don’t know how good or bad it is but a lot of people volunteer with that organization at wells they work with prisoners and their families there is uh um i’m forgetting the name of that organization and i will get back to you i will email him the list of all those organizations but they also work with prisoners and families they are based out of delhi um there is um then you know they’re not organizations but there are several general organizations that like human rights based organizations such as chri commonwealth human rights initiative and it not only works on prisons it also works on policing um so they have one of their projects as presence and they work extensively on prison research they work in haryana punjab they’ve come up with a lot of policies they’ve come up with a lot of project reports on what is missing inside prisons what are the conditions like so that’s one organization this amnesty international it’s not no longer working in india because their funding was kind of stopped but they work a lot in prisons then a lot of organizations working on legal aid so you would hear a lot of advocates who actually have started opening organizations they send their lawyers who are in their initial bits of their career to go in prison and represent people for free though government also has this facility but obviously it’s not up to the mark and there are a lot of like loopholes in that so a lot of organizations working in that front as well um yeah i think that’s about it i will give you a list which is not a lot but um i’ll pass on the list to catalyst and then maybe you can refer to those organizations and volunteer with them thank you i think that was actually a pretty prolific spectrum of organizations as well as the interesting point which cannot be mentioned at the end that we do find many pro bono initiatives by law practitioners nowadays right and it’s
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Careers in Criminology | Kanupriya Sharma, PhD Scholar, Criminology, University of Cambridge, UK

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