New Zealand Law Society - Students assist anti-violence project

Students assist anti-violence project

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Victoria University law students are contributing to a Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government research project which is evaluating the status of violence against women.

Law schools from around the world have been approached by the Harvard team to research the perspective of individual countries on violence against women.

Law students Jasmine Harding and Mollie Matich are leading a team of students which is involved in the Wellington Community Justice Project (WCJP) – an extra-curricular student-led programme – which aims to improve access to justice and legal services in the community, and to provide law students with an opportunity to gain practical legal experience. The other students in the team are Grace Kahukore-Fitzgibbon, Caitlin Coughtrey and Emma Talbot.

Jasmine and Mollie are the Human Rights leaders of the WCJP, and together the group has chosen to focus on domestic violence because of its prevalence in New Zealand.

It’s hoped that this global piece of research will help create a new protocol for violence against women, Jasmine says.

“The research project came from the widely-held view that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is not effective enough, as well as a desire for an international instrument that’s from the perspective of a victim.”

As part of the project, the team will talk to a number of groups and individuals with expertise, experience and opinions on the state of violence against women in New Zealand since the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

“This information will help us draw conclusions around potential gaps in the legislative framework and the implementation of anti-violence measures in New Zealand during the last two decades,” Mollie says.

The work will be cited in a video conference presentation to the Harvard John F Kennedy School of Government at the end of April. It will also be incorporated into wider research spanning multiple countries, with the intent of minimising gaps in the international legal framework to reduce violence against women all around the world.

“It’s hoped that this global piece of research will be used to present a case at the United Nations to establish a new convention on CEDAW,” Jasmine says.

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