Below are descriptions of our current projects. For information on past projects, please explore the navigation to the left.
Seeking Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Against Syrian Women
As violence in Syria has escalated, accounts of sexual and gender-based violence continue to grow, yet these crimes go largely undocumented as survivors are deterred from seeking medical attention or psychosocial support by cultural shame and lack of access. Our project integrates advocacy and capacity building, with documentation and reporting of women’s human rights violations in order to bring accountability and redress for these crimes in transitional justice processes as well as increase participation of Syrian women leaders with the international venues charged with upholding human rights and building peace.
Redress for Colombian Child Soldiers
The IWHR Clinic works to address human rights violations committed against demobilized child soldiers in Colombia, specifically looking at the intersection of gender and disabilities. Thousands of children have been recruited as soldiers in Colombia's armed conflict. In a war that pits the government and right-wing paramilitary groups against anti-government guerillas, all sides exploit children to advance their combat goals. Many are subjected to sexual violence and many suffer from either cognitive/social or physical disabilities. Girl members of illegal armed groups are particularly vulnerable to grave sexual violence. Clinic students engage in litigation through both UN and regional human rights mechanisms. Students work directly with clients to develop testimony; conduct in-country fact-finding investigations on human rights abuses; provide know-your-rights trainings, and; engage with UN Human Rights Experts.
Sexual Violence and LGBT Discrimination in Haiti
Post-earthquake violence against women in Haiti is widespread, especially for those living in displacement camps or poor neighborhoods. Entrenched social norms both perpetuate and justify discrimination and violence against women and deprive women of a multitude of legal rights including access to justice in the courts. Violence against LGBT community members has also been a pervasive problem in Haiti. Homosexuality remains a taboo, and as a result, the lives of many LGBTI individuals in Haiti are characterized by secrecy, isolation, discrimination, and violence. Clinic students work on addressing human rights violations committed against Haitian women and girls who are victims of sexual violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Students work directly with clients; conduct a "know your rights" training for Haitian grassroots women's groups; conduct in-country fact-finding investigations on human rights abuses; develop testimony, and; engage with those bodies and other UN Human Rights Experts, as well as relevant international and local NGOs working on this issue.
Promoting the Rights, Protection, and Physical Security of Marginalized and At-Risk Iraqis
The IWHR Clinic works to promote the rights, protection and physical security of marginalized and at-risk Iraqis and to prevent these groups from experiencing violence and protect those who are threatened. Thousands of Iraqis today are at risk of violence as a result of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or nonconformist social behavior. They are deprived of their human rights, ostracized, and marginalized, and hundreds have even been brutally murdered in the past three years. With regard to honor crimes, women, men, and members of the LGBT community alike remain at serious risk of violence do to conduct perceived to be contrary to traditional mores. Clinic students engage in litigation through both UN human rights mechanisms; collaborate with UN Human Rights Experts; develop and submit expert testimony; train partner groups on how to best identify and document cases of marginalized and at-risk Iraqis, and; conduct investigations on Iraqi gender human rights abuses.
Reproductive Rights in Asia and Latin America
This project focuses on reproductive rights issues in South Asia and Latin America. Students work with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), an international human rights organization that works on reproductive rights and health issues, to work to reform laws criminalizing abortion and access to contraceptives in the Philippines. Students are also working on litigation pending before the Inter-American Commission brought on behalf of a woman in Chile who was forcibly sterilized because she is HIV positive. Students have engaged in in-depth research of international standards protecting reproductive rights and comparative law reform efforts. Students are currently drafting a brief for the Inter-American Commission.
Challenging the Incarcerating of Youth in Adult Prisons in the United States
This project focuses on the issue of the incarceration of children in adult prisons in the United States. Students are working with prisoners' rights attorney Deb LaBelle in advocacy before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee to challenge state laws that allow children as young as 14 to be incarcerated in adult prisons. Clinic students have researched domestic laws and policies that have led to the incarceration of youth in adult facilities and international human rights standards prohibiting these practices. They have worked to develop the facts around the incarceration of youth in Michigan through surveys, correspondence and interviews with incarcerated youth. They have drafted documents for the UN and the Inter-American Commission. Students are currently preparing for a hearing before the Inter-American Commission in mid-March 2013.
Ending Collateral Consequences of Sex Trafficking
This project addresses the collateral consequences of the criminal prosecution of survivors of sex trafficking in the United States. Students work with the Legal Aid Society's Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project (TVLDAP) to represent individuals seeking post-conviction relief for prostitution-related convictions. Students are also involved in international advocacy before the U.N. and law reform efforts in the U.S. to challenge the criminalization of trafficked persons in the first place, and to ensure that when they have been treated as criminals, trafficking survivors have access to effective remedies to redress the harms of criminalization.
Individual client representation involves interviewing clients, legal research, drafting legal briefs and affidavits. The advocacy work involves researching both international and U.S. laws, interviewing, report drafting, and engaging with U.N. human rights experts.