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women’s rights

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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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

The role of access to justice in combating gender violence

In the worldwide movement to end domestic and gender-based violence, most efforts to combat violence against women and girls fall into two spheres: so-called prevention and response — similar to interventions in other realms, such as the healthcare field. ‘Prevention’ efforts approach gender violence with the idea that breaking down systems of patriarchy and oppression is the ultimate goal, and the root cause of gender violence. If we can disrupt the patriarchal order, we can begin to more effectively reduce and end gender violence. Many prevention efforts seek to change social and cultural norms as an attempt to reduce gender inequity. By changing…

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women's rights

What will it take?

In recent conversations about gender violence, I have found myself thinking: what will it take to truly end domestic and gender-based violence? Currently, it seems like almost everything that needs to be done, is being done in some form or other across the world. We have programs focused on prevention: on changing media representation of women, of improving education for girls and young boys about healthy relationships, and of changing social norms and challenging social stigma. We have a wealth of programs in the U.S. at least – and then around the world – focusing on urgent care and response for survivors, ensuring that…

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women's rights

New center on women, peace and security

Now, here’s what I see as an example of genuinely good and thoughtful activism done by a celebrity.  Angelina Jolie is opening a center in the UK – at the London School of Economics – to study issues of sexual violence in conflict. A four-day summit hosted by Jolie and Hague in June last year, as part of the UK government’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative, resulted in a protocol signed by 151 countries and the LSE’s centre on women, peace and security is the latest step in trying to combat the use of rape as a weapon of…

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human rights, international justice, legal empowerment, public interest law, women's rights

Online Symposium on Justice and Customary Law

Hello friends! Yet another (shameless?) plug: I recently organized an Online Symposium for the Harvard Human Rights Journal on access to justice, particularly via customary and informal systems, and we received a range of fascinating submissions from scholars and practitioners around the world. Read more below and check out these illuminating articles: From the Informal to the Formal: Examining Access to Justice and Customary Justice Mechanisms  The HHRJ Online Symposium this year centers on issues of access to justice to the poor around the world, with a particular focus on examining the challenges that exist within informal, customary and traditional mechanisms of dispute resolution. In many…

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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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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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human rights, legal empowerment, women's rights

Women’s rights, legislation & the rule of law

Fantastic post on women’s rights and human rights by Keshet Bachan. This portion sticks out to me as especially key: There is no doubt legislation is an important first step in promoting human rights. However, most countries don’t have strong democratic traditions that uphold the rule of law, meaning legislation remains formal and fails to become substantive. And when legislation encounters social norms and traditions that contradict it, most of the time it will come out on the losing end. Without strong law enforcement forces and functioning judicial systems, with high levels of illiteracy and in many cases parallel legal…

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human rights, women's rights

Shattering assumptions

This summer, I have spent the bulk of my time working on issues of gender, women’s rights, and access to justice.  The first half of my summer focused on providing direct legal services to survivors of domestic violence in family and immigration law matters.  The second half — which I am immersed in at the moment — involves policy research on issues of sexual assault across the U.S. In doing this work, I’ve often thought back to some of the assumptions I myself had about gender – and which were broken down – in particular through a course I took this past…

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social change, women's rights, writing experiments

Breaking down walls: a story from Salone

Sometimes, an image sears itself into your brain — it becomes a snippet of a memory that comes back, flashes back, and horrifies you when you least expect it.  These images come back to haunt you when you are lying down after a long day, about to sleep.  When you take a brief respite from work and take a quick walk outside.  When you are eating dinner.  At the most mundane times, sometimes these images strike — and you feel like you’re back there again.  Sometimes, there are moments you cannot forget, even if you wish you could. For me,…

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