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social change

feature friday, interview, non-profit, social change, women's rights

Feature Friday: Zariya & Founder Sahar Khan

Hello friends! This Friday, I’d like to introduce you to Zariya, an inspiring new organization working to support survivors of violence against women – currently in India – through an innovative, tech savvy new model. Check out what inspired Zariya’s Founder, Sahar Khan, in her journey towards tackling gender-based violence and founding a new model in this space! Tell me about yourself; how did you develop a passion for addressing gender-based violence? Interestingly, in high school in Oman, I worked on women’s education because access to education is a cause that was and remains very dear to me personally. However, during…

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legal empowerment, non-profit, public interest law, social change

New holistic legal services program in Rhode Island

As someone who is a big proponent of a “holistic legal services model,” I was incredibly excited to hear about a program launched in 2013 with support from the Kresge Foundation. The program, the Holistic Legal Assistance Network (HLAN) is hosted within Rhode Island Legal Services, and utilizes a holistic approach to identify and address the underlying social problems preventing an individual from moving forward out of poverty. This program implements exactly the model I have been advocating on this blog for a while. The program integrates both legal and non-legal support and strategies and provides a continuity of care across the spectrum of a client’s…

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human rights, social change

The Paris attacks and a call for more empathy

This weekend, I have spent a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed, reading about and mourning the horror of the terror attacks in Paris that killed over 120.  My heart goes out to the victims and their families and loved ones, and the French people.  I am deeply saddened and stand in solidarity with France in this moment. And yet, in the depth of my heart, I admit that I have found myself thinking:  why has the world paid so much attention to attacks on lives lost in Paris, but so little to lives lost elsewhere in recent months and even…

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issues, social change

Heartbroken by Ferguson

The open letter from the protestors will always stick with me: For 108 days, we have continuously been admonished that we should “let the system work,” and wait to see what the results are. The results are in. And we still don’t have justice. This fight for the dignity of our people, for the importance of our lives, for the protection of our children, is one that did not begin Michael’s murder and will not end with this announcement. The ‘system’ you have told us to rely on has kept us on the margins of society. This system has housed us in her…

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public interest law, social change

LIDS Symposium on Post-Conflict Reconstruction

Last Friday, I organized a symposium at Harvard Law School hosted by the Harvard Law & International Development Society (LIDS) and titled “Post-Conflict Reconstruction: Rebuilding from Emergency to Development,” which brought together practitioners, experts, and academics across the country and world to discuss issues of economic growth and development, and supporting the rule of law in countries arising from conflict. It was a great success, with lots of insights gained and ideas exchanged.  It was my first real time organizing an event of this scale, and I was so excited to see the vibrant outcomes and exchanges from it!  Especially…

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criminal justice, human rights, international justice, public interest law, social change, women's rights

Kimberley Motley: on rule of law in Afghanistan

Here’s quite a fascinating TED talk by Kimberley Motley,who I know has been somewhat of a controversial figure in Afghanistan in the past. She has some interesting thoughts on what it’s like to be a lawyer, representing clients and promoting rule of law in fragile states such as Afghanistan. She represents an interesting array of cases, including gender-based violence and human rights cases in Afghanistan. Her main thrust in this talk, which I have always agreed with  – is that in many countries, there are already many laws on the books that could protect and promote human rights. Even within Shari’a law, there…

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human rights, social change

Article 25: Global Day of Action for the Right to Health

This Saturday, Article 25 – a new global movement of people who believe health is a human right – will be launching the first-ever Global Day of Action for the Right to Health. This is incredibly exciting, as health activists and everyday people in 58 countries will be coming together to launch a rising global, grassroots movement to combat global health inequity. The Day of Action is being coordinated by Article 25, a nonprofit advocacy group working with more than 50 partners to build a global movement for the right to health. On Saturday, public health and social justice activists will…

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criminal justice, public interest law, social change, women's rights

State violence and domestic abuse

As someone who works on issues of domestic violence, one question I frequently ask is: how can we rely on the state’s violent, coercive power to counter and resolve another issue of ‘private’ violence? The criminal justice system and prosecution of domestic abusers is a solution often put forth when it comes to providing accountability and promoting deterrence in cases of gender-based and domestic violence. Perhaps if we prosecute more often (considering the rate of prosecution is incredibly low for a variety of reasons — patriarchal beliefs among police and the justice system, the intimate relationships between abusers and survivors,…

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feature friday, legal empowerment, public interest law, social change

Feature Friday: Justice and Empowerment Initiatives

Today (after a long pause between ‘Feature Fridays!’) I’d like to highlight an exciting new community-based lawyering organization in Nigeria, Justice and Empowerment Initiatives.  I’m truly excited about their approach, which truly aims to be far more community-based and involves not just litigation but community paralegalism, advocacy, and mobilization/movement-building. JEI’s three prongs of work are: training community-based paralegals, engaging in movement building, and finally – strategic advocacy. JEI trains, monitors, and supports networks of individuals providing community-based paralegal services in rural and urban poor communities in Nigeria. A particularly exciting aspect of their model is their community-owned initiatives in Nigera. JEI helps to set…

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human rights, international justice, public interest law, social change

Can courts, lawyers & activists make a difference?

A great post on OpenDemocracy recently by Chris Jochnick discussed human rights tools of litigation, and how the law can be harnessed to address some of the root causes of poverty. I especially liked the following questions he asks at the end, which I think are absolutely spot on: Can resources be mobilized at scale to support human rights work that directly confronts poverty, inequities and vested interests? The longstanding bias of human rights funders against ESR continues to limit this work. Can lawyers and litigation be incorporated into grassroots struggles without co-opting them? The legal training, the proximity to power,…

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