Miami Law's Human Rights Clinic, in conjunction with the Sisterhood of Survivors (an organization led by domestic violence survivors), The Lodge (a shelter for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault), and the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center (FIAC), helped plan Rashida Manjoo's fact-finding site visit to South Florida, which will take place January 28-30, 2011.
During her time in Miami, Manjoo, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, will visit immigrant women's detention centers operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and a domestic violence shelter, and engage in meetings with domestic violence victims and survivors, advocates, academics, and other community leaders to gain a better understanding of issues concerning violence against women in South Florida.
Clinic students coordinated with various community leaders and advocates to help organize her activities while in Miami. They also had the opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge about the issue of violence against women in detention by observing an attorney from FIAC, a not-for-profit legal assistance organization dedicated to protecting immigrant human rights, interview women at an immigration detention center. Applying the knowledge gained from these collaborations, Clinic students created a briefing paper for Manjoo, describing women's stories during their time inside the immigration detention centers and the shelter to highlight the particular challenges these women face.
"It has been truly enlightening to learn about the issues surrounding domestic violence and immigrant women from the victims themselves, but it has also revealed the serious human rights issues many of these women face and the need for change in a system that allows for such atrocities to occur right here in our own backyards," said Miraisy Rodriguez, a Human Rights Clinic student.
Culminating her Miami visit, Manjoo will attend a roundtable discussion focusing on issues varying from domestic violence and immigration policy to trafficking. The discussion will be moderated by Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Miami Law, and also includes UM Law Professor Zanita Fenton who will be speaking on economic justice.
"We are helping to coordinate this visit because a unique focus of the Human Rights Clinic is on gender justice in the Americas. We are involved in violence against women issues on the local, national, and international levels: the Jessica Gonzales case, the Gender Justice in the Americas Convening, and in working with groups at these various levels that are interested in using human rights strategies to address these issues," said Professor Bettinger-Lopez.
Since Manjoo was appointed to her post at the U.N. in June 2009, she has conducted similar fact-finding country visits to Kyrgyzstan, El Salvador, and Algeria, surveying the state of violence against women and publishing country reports based on her findings.