The End of the Beginning: Reflecting on My Time at SoCO

Rachel Law
SoCO (Society for Community Organization 香港社區組織協會)
Hong Kong, China

Nine weeks had flown past as I approached the end of my internship at SoCO in mid-July. After those weeks of in-depth research and discussions on how to improve the internal complaints system for inmates in prisons in Hong Kong, I, along with my project-mate Tracy, had compiled our research data and policy recommendations into a 30-page report, which was launched at a press conference soon afterward.

RTHK news report on our press conference

This study, “Report on Improving the Internal Complaints Mechanism in Prisons,” evaluates the current internal complaints channels available to inmates, which are (1) verbal complaints made to prison officers and (2) formal complaints made to the Complaints Investigation Unit (CIU). We compared the current system to the framework we developed based on existing international and Hong Kong standards, with an extra emphasis on the principles of accessibility, accountability, and transparency.

Through looking into 44 case studies and some relevant official complaint investigation reports, we identified three main problems with the current system, namely (1) the lack of mechanisms ensuring compliance with rules and regulations, (2) the lack of institutional support for complaints-making and processing, and (3) the lack of legal support and counsel—which is especially important because internal disciplinary hearings have allegedly been used as deterrents to frequent complaint-making.

On July 12, Annie (my supervisor) led Tracy and me in hosting a press conference to introduce our report and call for future meetings and discussion with relevant government agencies. These bodies include the Correctional Services Department (CSD) and the Office of the Ombudsman, which oversees the operation of prisons and procedural fairness in government respectively. This report launch came just in time, as there had been waves of news reports on alleged abuse of power by prison officers, including physical abuse, during those few months. At the press conference, we made nine main recommendations for CSD’s consideration:

News report on our report launch featured in Oriental Daily News

  1. Introduce an Independent Equity Officer to improve accountability of complaints investigators and the system, and to increase transparency of the process.
  2. Introduce confidential complaints boxes to improve the accessibility and confidentiality of complaints-making.
  3. Publicize complaints procedures and forms.
  4. Extend the valid complaints period to ensure accessibility of a complaints-making mechanism for a longer period, until a fully effective and independent complaints-investigation process can be put in place.
  5. Mandate protective measures for complainants and witnesses.
  6. Establish systems for record-keeping to improve accountability and transparency of the system and investigations.
  7. Improve independence of internal hearings.
  8. Protect the right to counsel.
  9. Introduce an efficient complaints referral mechanism so complaints currently not under the purview of CSD can be referred to relevant departments and bureaus for follow-up in a timely manner.

News report by The Standard on our research findings and recommendations

Our “gai-fong” sharing his experiences complaining both inside and outside of the prison system [source]

To give the press a clearer picture of the complaints system in practice, we invited an ex-inmate who have made complaints both within and outside of the prison system to share his experience interacting with the CIU and CSD. His presence at the conference made the report launch more interactive and helped communicate our recommendations in a more personal way.

On the day following the report launch, Annie was invited to a radio program (conducted in Cantonese; see sixth interview) to discuss the report and recommendations. A current prison officer responded by calling in and expressed his disagreement with the criticisms we had of the system and current practices. I was surprised—mostly pleasantly—at the “noise” we were able to make with our report in initiating more conversations on and a deeper look into the way inmate and detainee complaints are currently dealt with.

Follow-up radio podcast on the criticisms and recommendations we raised during the press conference on July 12

With Annie!

One of my biggest takeaways from organizing and being a part of the press conference was getting community organizing experience working with and preparing our clients for the event. The process of encouraging them to speak up and stay engaged in policy discussions related to them has not only allowed me to understand their situations on a deeper level, but also prompted me to do the same and speak up for myself.

Another thing I learned was the practical realities of—and at times, obstacles to—human rights advocacy and research on the ground. For instance, during the course of report-writing and outreach, we had to account for the long response time from government departments. When developing recommendations, we had to balance larger policy recommendations that serve more as guiding directions and principles and more “technical” recommendations that troubleshoot day-to-day operational issues, so that our proposals could be useful and feasible in both the short and long run.

Me with my supervisor, Annie, and fellow co-worker, Sharon (missing Tracy in this photo😢)

But this summer experience has been way more than just about gaining hands-on experience in human rights advocacy and policy research focused on the criminal justice system. I had the great pleasure of working with and developing a close relationship with my co-workers, Tracy and Sharon, and of course with my amazing supervisor, Annie, who gave me unwavering support and guidance along the way. Their support, kindness, and passion for the work that they do has and will continue to inspire me to devote myself to the service of others.

Thank you, SoCO and all those great people I got to meet or work with, for this inspiring experience, and thank you again to the fellowship program for this wonderful opportunity!

Until next time 😊

 

References: Report on Improving the Internal Complaints Mechanism in Prisons. Society for Community Organization, Hong Kong, 2017, pp. 1–30, Report on Improving the Internal Complaints Mechanism in Prisons.

Beyond Theories: The Dynamic Side of Human Rights Advocacy

Rachel Law
SoCO (Society for Community Organization 香港社區組織協會)
Hong Kong, China

Community organizers at SoCO work closely with not only members of affected communities but also human rights advocates from Hong Kong and other nearby regions and with members of civil society. Frequent contact and interaction with these parties are vital in keeping our work updated with the latest happenings and in allowing us to explore opportunities for collaboration between organizations.

I have been excited and grateful for the many opportunities to participate in these community engagement events during the course of my internship. Even though they are not directly related to my research topic, they have offered me a glimpse of the many other ways of pursuing human rights advocacy, as well as the importance of having a tight-knit human rights community when pushing for change and reform.

During the first few weeks of my time at SoCO, I attended several events held for the local rights activist community, one of which was a report launch on issues related to access to legal representation and pro bono lawyers in Hong Kong. The report, “This Way: Finding Community Legal Assistance in Hong Kong,” has benefited from input from various local human rights organizations as well as Mr. Richard Tsoi, a SoCO community organizer and one of the panelists at the launch. The presentation and result findings were eye-opening, as they revealed the gaps in current government legal assistance programs in providing timely help to marginalized groups, especially ethnic minorities and low-income families—an issue previously lesser known to the general public.

Evaluation of the CE’s work on improving housing situation in Hong Kong.

Aside from collaboration between local organizations, human rights advocates in Hong Kong often work with regional and international parties to bring local issues into discussion on a broader level, and vice versa. These discussions include formal seminars, such as a roundtable I participated in in May with Mr. Michel Forst (UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders) on the threats, challenges, and opportunities in promoting human rights, as well as less formal programs. One example of these programs is Just Asia, a news program focused on human rights issues in Asia, hosted by Asian Human Rights Commission TV, which my advisor, Annie, helps out with weekly as the program’s host.

Waiting area at the petition.

Collaboration with fellow human rights advocates takes many different forms and so does the interaction with press and media. It has been interesting to see and learn how to bridge the gap between human rights advocacy and advocacy on traditional media. Human rights theories and violations alone might not be enough to catch readers’ attention; thus, in addition to releasing research reports and policy recommendations, we often tried to include sharing of cases by gaifongs (街坊, members of the community) that the readers might resonate more with.

At the same time, SoCO regularly organizes exhibitions and other projects as “softer” actions that bring public attention to urgent social issues such as caged homes and stigma against former inmates.

Exhibition by SoCO offering viewers an experience of living in caged housing. A few candidates running for the 2017 HK chief executive election have tried it out during their campaigns.

One theme runs through all the numerous programs, actions, and events that SoCO does: the spirit of community organizing, which emphasizes educating members of the community to the importance of speaking up for oneself and being more present and open about the issues they face. In contrast to common perception, however, speaking up does not necessarily imply standing in opposition to parties of authority. In fact, very often, gaifongs and human rights advocates are speaking up to explore collaboration with policymakers, who at times welcome opinions from stakeholders. An example would be a follow-up meeting initiated by the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) on custody conditions (see my first blog for more details), in which IPCC representatives were open to and eager about recommendations devised by SoCO.

Snapshot of meeting with IPCC (Source: SoCO Facebook page)

Next time, I will share how my experiences over the past two months have been summed up in my first ever press conference and report on improving a prison internal complaints system. Stay tuned!

The Duality of Beauty and Bureaucracy: A Trip to Kimironko and Lake Kivu, and Continued Projects

Naa-Djama Attoh Okine
Health Development Initiative 
Kigali, Rwanda

Hello Everyone!

This summer, I spent approximately eleven weeks interning at Health Development Initiative in Kigali, Rwanda, then spent an additional two and a half weeks traveling across Europe before settling back in New York in preparation of the fall semester.

Today, I will be chronicling the sixth through eighth weeks of my tenure as a community health in key populations intern, which included a weekend trip to Lake Kivu and editing a training manual for sex workers.

The traditional work hours of 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, were saturated with continued editing of the manual. A significant amount of data and inspiration for the manual came from similar works by the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation.

By week six, I had met up with a few human rights officers to organize a comprehensive table of contents, had created a pre-assessment sensitivity training quiz for community health workers and HDI staff, and had completed the sections on HIV statistics, family planning, and safer sex.

The meeting was especially insightful, as I came face-to-face with some common issues in the NGO field. In creating a health and human rights journal regarding the welfare of a marginalized and criminalized population, I had to tread carefully in how the language of the manual depicted the government. Entire sections had to be reworked (or in more extreme situations, scrapped) during the editing process. I will go into specifics in a future post. These types of issues have taught me myriad priceless lessons as I proceed through my education.

During my seventh weekend in Kigali, a colleague and I took a weekend trip to Lake Kivu. While the four-hour journey across innumerable unpaved roads and hills should have spelled disaster, the beauty of the landscape, people, and buildings made for a welcome distraction.

Moto driver cradled in the hills.

About one hour west of Kigali.

While photos may be worth a thousand words, an entire volume could not describe the experience of standing in such a natural wonder!

Taken near Monkey and Bats Island in Kibuye.

View of Lake Kivu.

The Monday of my eighth week in Kigali saw both progress with the training manual (which I will talk about in my next and final blog post) and an artistic exploration of textiles at the Kimironko Market, which was bursting to the seams with a variety of vendors. I found myself enchanted by both the physical and social interactions taking place.

To be continued!

Liliose’s fabric stall at the Kimironko Market

mVAM Two-Way Communications: Making Real-Time Data Available to Beneficiaries

Victoria Berg
World Food Programme
Nairobi, Kenya

Another hearty “Jambo!” from the WFP Regional Bureau in Kenya! I am still greatly enjoying my time at the Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping (VAM) unit. To recap, the VAM unit provides technical support to country offices through assessments and food security monitoring.  This generates information and a factual basis for program design using more traditional assessment methods, and advanced and emerging technologies to provide a clear picture and timely data of the situation on the ground. The VAM unit has a subset called mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM), which is the subject of my blog today.

mVAM is used to “collect food security data from places that are too remote or dangerous for face-to-face assessments, or when high-frequency data is needed to monitor an evolving situation” (WFP, 2017). mVAM uses mobile technology like SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) (live calls made by an operator) to track the food security of vulnerable populations in real-time (WFP, 2017).

Somalia, Dolow, 24 April 2017
WFP is scaling up relief operations quickly to avert famine in Somalia, where close to 3 million people cannot meet daily food requirements and where 3.3 million need livelihood support to keep from sliding into crisis. WFP has been providing unconditional cash and food assistance to drought-affected communities. In the photo, a young boy waits while his mother tops up her SCOPE Cash-Based Transfers (CBTs) card.
WFP/Kabir Dhanji

Globally, the VAM unit has completed 555 in-depth assessments since 2001. 59 countries have Food Security Monitoring Systems in place, and over 20,000 remote mVAM surveys are carried out every month (WFP, 2017). That is A LOT of data. I have been sitting at a desk at the regional bureau reading incredibly comprehensive and valuable technical reports from the VAM team that help inform program and policy in the region.

In addition to sharing data and assessment results with the wider food security community, the mVAM team now wants to use new tools and technologies to make this data available and easily accessible to beneficiaries and the communities where WFP works. Food security data should not be a one-way street but should be made available in a timely matter to the people it directly impacts.

The WFP’s two-way communications systems can be used for WFP to contact communities and vice versa. They tailor communication channels such as a hotline, IVR,  a chatbot, Facebook’s Free Basics platform, or a combination of, to provide information on food prices, WFP programs, dates of food distribution, and more.

With funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), VAM is expanding its two-way communication systems to 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. A support mission was recently undertaken to scope out their feasibility in Kenya, where refugees already have access to the WFP hotline.

Somalia, Somaliland, Habasweyh, 05 April 2017
Somalis redeeming their Cash-Based Transfers (CBTs) for food rations.
WFP/Karel Prinsloo

In my personal opinion, mVAM’s two-way communications systems are a valuable tool that will only become more important in the future. As climate change and variability intensifies droughts and floods, the timely data and information can provide the early warnings necessary for preventative action.

Most importantly, programs can be strengthened to better benefit the people they serve. If refugees are able to access real-time data about market prices and the quality of goods, for example, they could make more informed decisions about where to buy and what to purchase. It therefore has the potential to enhance refugees’ access to food.

Please note that I am not a WFP employee and that my views in no way reflect those of the WFP or the UN.

Unexpected Conclusions

Tiffen McAlister
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (NOFHAC)
New Orleans, LA, USA

Good news! I’ve concluded my research, and with my conclusion come numerous surprising observations. I expected to find a very clear causal link between economic status and policing; I have found a complex correlation instead.

After having conducted more than 50 interviews in the Bywater and Midcity, I found that Midcity does indeed have a greater police presence. This is striking for two reasons: the Bywater has had a perceived increase in crime, and Midcity has had a reputation of being safe.

Practically every Midcity resident I spoke to described a ubiquitous presence of cops—Midcity Security District Patrol, specifically. Numerous residents I spoke to noted that the police often seem to loiter around the neighborhood, doing nothing. “Just checking their Facebook,” said one resident.

This is in stark contrast for residents of the Bywater, who noted that the police only ever come around after a crime has been committed. Some residents noted having never seen a proactive patrol before. Given that my research goal was to prove a link between housing and the “broken windows” approach to policing people by policing place, the absence of a proactive police presence in the Bywater was startling.

And why is there such a minimal police presence there? I believe the answer to that question lies in how Midcity became a security district. Security districts, as I’ve previously mentioned, require neighborhood associations to push for the creation of an additional property tax, meaning that a community must have the know-how to lobby and maneuver through City Hall. In other words, creating a security district requires both political and economic capital. Midcity was predisposed for security district success, given that it is both a wealthier neighborhood and home to more locals (i.e., people who are more familiar with city government) than is a neighborhood like Bywater.

The resource discrepancy, in conjunction with the city’s drastic reduction in police force, have left neighborhoods needing to provide policing for themselves, and has left the Bywater struggling to make up the difference.

Maybe they don’t have it that bad…

Nahal Mottaghian
Tehran, Iran

It is now summertime in Iran, and the Islamic dress code has been nothing but a nuisance. My monteau, a loose-fitting overcoat, keeps me constantly sweating, and my hijab adds a layer of heat. When I came to Iran in January of 2014, it was wintertime and cold, so the Islamic dress code didn’t bother me so much. Wearing a long coat was only logical, and wearing a hijab added a layer of warmth.

When I was preparing for this summer’s trip, my grandma advised me to arrive dressing as conservatively as possible. It was still the holy month of Ramadan when I landed on June 14, and I was told that the police were extra-sensitive about the dress code. So, I wore all gray—a gray monteau down to my ankles, a gray hijab folded for double thickness, just to be sure you couldn’t see through to my hair. I had removed my nose ring, my 3 bracelets, my 7 rings. My gray pants rose past my ankles when sitting down, so I bought men’s grey dress socks from the Istanbul airport, just to be safe.

Tehran, 2017

When I arrived and looked around, I wanted to laugh out loud. I must have looked like such a fool! Iranian women were not dressed like I was. Their monteaus came in every length and  color. Their hijabs sat halfway back on their heads, revealing almost the entirety of their hair. They wore jewelry, makeup, bright-colored nail polish, and open-toed shoes.

I felt like I should have known better. I am Iranian-American. My entire family is Iranian. And I had been to Iran before.

It was easy for me to assume that this liberal style of dress was influenced by the feminist movement. I thought, look at this act of rebellion! The women’s rights movement, in action, right before my eyes!

I sat down with a friend one day and told her my thoughts. She said, “Where do you think these women buy their ‘liberal’ clothing from? Iranian shops, owned by Iranian businessmen, regulated by the Iranian government. Is it really an act of rebellion when the government is allowing it?”

Astara, 2017

I didn’t know how to answer her. But it did put some things into perspective. If people assume that Iran is under Talibanesque rule, it’s easy to be shocked by the liberal dress. And it is even easier to look at Iranian women and think, maybe they don’t have it that bad.

Yet, while the fight might start with pushing back against the dress code, it does not end there. In fact, it barely scratches the surface of the movement. 

Another friend said to me over tea, “Maybe one day, wearing a hijab won’t be mandatory. But does it really matter if I’m not wearing a hijab [if] I still don’t have the right to divorce, or to the custody of my own children?”

Unexpected Twists and Turns

Tiffen McAlister
Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (NOFHAC)
New Orleans, LA, USA

So far, my research has gone well, albeit with some unexpected twists and turns. I’ve been administering my survey in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, the Bywater, as I had planned. However, after consulting with the policy director at NOFHAC, I’ve decided to include the Midcity neighborhood into my research as well.

Midcity serves as an interesting contrast to the Bywater in numerous regards. First, it is gentrifying as is the Bywater, although at a slower rate. And yet, it has more wealth inequality than the Bywater and is home to more New Orleans locals.

This poses interesting competing interpretations of gentrification. Relative to Midcity, the Bywater seems to be an example of gentrification as a cultural force: it is increasingly made up of artists and “creative-class” types who have recently moved to the city. Midcity, on the other hand, serves as a better example of gentrification as an economic phenomenon, since it has the highest income gap of any neighborhood in the city and is primarily made up of people from New Orleans.

Additionally, Midcity, unlike the Bywater, is a designated “security district,” meaning that a neighborhood association has petitioned the city council to levy property taxes on local homeowners to fund off-duty cops to patrol the neighborhood. This is what makes Midcity a truly excellent contrast to the Bywater.

A central question I have is why Midcity self-designated as a security district when the Bywater didn’t. The security district designation ensures a far greater private police presence in Midcity than in the Bywater. Answers I’ve gotten in both neighborhoods reflects this. Whereas Bywater residents report minimal police presence and interactions, Midcity residents are constantly aware of a police presence and reported instances of profiling.

Lastly, my research experience has taken an unexpected turns as a consequence of severe flooding. Over the summer, New Orleans has gotten 50+ inches of rain, and the season isn’t even over. Last week, as Midcity got 7 inches of rain, the city’s flood pumps broke down and are still broken. As one would imagine, this has complicated my research. Any subsequent rain threatens to flood the city again.

As it stands, though, Midcity is recovering quickly, and I’m still able to conduct my research. Restaurants, bars, and community spaces have reopened. Going forward, I think I’ll incorporate questions about flood recovery in my surveys.

Feminism Defined by Muslim Women

Nahal Mottaghian
Tehran, Iran

I grew up in a house of immigrant stories. My understanding of Iran was built on my parents’ memories of the Iran they used to know, an Iran that had not yet felt the grip of an Islamic regime. But in 1979, the Iran my parents once knew ceased to exist: the seemingly secular monarchy became a seemingly cruel Islamic republic.

Life in Iran is experienced in an entirely different way from how outsiders might imagine. The common narrative surrounding the Iranian people is that the once-free became oppressed. The common narrative surrounding Iranian women is that the once-liberated and modern became helpless and veiled.

While a lot has changed since the Islamic revolution of 1979, it is important to ask: What did women’s rights look like when Iran was a monarchy? Did women have equality before the revolution, or did the post-revolutionary forced veiling of women suddenly make the struggle for women’s rights visible to the Western world?

Iranian woman in Abyaneh, 2014

Iranian woman in Mashhad, 2014

Iranian woman in Tehran, 2014

For this fellowship, I proposed to better understand the women’s rights movement in Iran, and I intend to work with an organization called the Feminist School, located in Tehran. This organization is made up of a group of women who are fighting to increase gender equality.

I plan to spend 9 weeks learning about how these women define what it means to be Iranian women and what the history of the fight for women’s rights looks like. I hope to avoid looking at the hijab as only a symbol of oppression and as the only symbol of oppression. I also propose sharing the voices of Muslim women and allowing them to define their own feminist ideals.

With the Iranian presidential elections around the corner, the state of the country’s politics might face a serious transition. Hassan Rouhani, the incumbent, is seen as a moderate, while his greatest competitor, Ebrahim Raisi, is considered a hard-liner. The results of the election could shift the political and social state of the country, thus making it very hard for me to follow through with my plans to work with the Feminist School. In the case I cannot go to Iran, I plan to work with the Muslim community in London, a city with Muslim immigrants from a wide range of Islamic nations, including Iran.

Can Laws Actually be Changed?

Nahal Mottaghian
Tehran, Iran

In 1997, Mohammad Khatami was elected president of Iran, and he served two terms. He ran on a platform of reform. His presidency allowed for liberal changes in Iranian social life—liberal, in the context of Iran. This slight sense of social freedom was lost when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office in 2005.

A friend of mine was a women’s studies major during the Khatami years. The field at that time, she told me, was in stark contrast to the field today. She worked alongside internationally educated female scholars. She was involved in debates that pulled from traditions and ideals of not only the rest of the Muslim world but from the Western world as well. Today, many of her former professors have been silenced, the debates have become centered on interpretations of the Quran, and finding work has become increasingly difficult.

I asked if there is hope for moving towards full gender equality in Iran and if it is realistic to advocate for policy change. She told me that she and her colleagues had successfully advocated for changing erse, the inheritance law, which stemmed from the Quran. It deemed that when a woman passes away, her husband gets full inheritance of her property.  However, when a man passes away, his wife inherits the value of the trees on his property.

Husband and wife, Talesh, 2017

To change erse, the women started by researching why it came to be. What they found was that at the time the law was written, date trees were considered extremely valuable, meaning that female widows walked away with something far more valuable than the property itself. Today, however, this does not translate: trees hold much less value than property does.

The women felt that Parliament would likely agree to change erse if they could show that this idea no longer made sense, that other Islamic nations weren’t using it, and that there were alternate Islamic interpretations of it. This is exactly what they did, and they were able to convince the members of Parliament that this law did not translate in today’s society.

And if one can change a law taken directly from the Quran, one can change laws that are based on interpretations of regulations in the Quran. It is just a matter of working from the bottom up.

Prioritizing your fight

Nahal Mottaghian
Tehran, Iran

I don’t want to generalize the Iranian women’s rights movement in any way. I don’t want to simplify it to just a few groups of women fighting for a few different things. The reality is that all women in Iran view their rights differently, and all women prioritize laws they feel are worth fighting for in different ways. However, there are three groups of women’s rights advocates that, I believe, show the range of the movement.

In this age of social media and constant connectivity, My Stealthy Freedom, an internet campaign encouraging Iranian women to share photos of themselves without their hijabs on social media, has gained an incredible international following. The campaign was started in 2014 by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who is currently living in exile. It has expanded to including “White Wednesdays”: Alinejad encourages women in Iran to to wear white hijabs on Wednesdays as a symbol of unity and peaceful protest.

I met a woman in a white hijab on a Wednesday who told me, “It is a way to look around and know who is on your side and [who is] against the mandatory veiling of women.” 

Tabriz, 2017

While My Stealthy Freedom is seen as a movement of liberal women, there are conservative women also working to increase gender equality. Politician Azam Taleghani, as the daughter of an Ayatollah, is a conservative and pious woman, and she is advocating for an increase in women’s roles in government. She was the first woman to register her name as a candidate for president and has registered three times. Each time, she was denied candidacy by the Guardian Council, which ultimately decides who is fit to run for president. There is little chance she will see this change in her lifetime; she is 73. But her purpose in trying is to point out the blatant gender discrimination in presidential elections.

Women gathering weekly to study the teachings of the Quran. Tehran, 2017

There are also women who fall somewhere in the middle. There are scholars, politicians, and advocates, like those in the Feminist School, who are  working towards changing discriminatory laws such as unfair marriage laws, and laws ranging from custody battles to honor killings. These women must analyze the laws, prove why they should be changed, prove that people want them changed (by getting signatures for petitions), and take up the issue before Parliament. The women of the Feminist School have released a list of laws they are working to change, including those for a women’s right to a divorce, custody, stoning, and much more.

All of these women I’ve mentioned, whether liberal, conservative, or somewhere in between, are working towards a collective cause.

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