Tuesday, May 29, 2007

DC and NY

Have just returned to Coeur d'Alene after a little over a week spent in DC and NY. The moot court competition went very well. Seth and I advanced to the semi-finals--placing us in the top 12 out of 63 teams. So we worked hard Monday-Thursday, but made sure to take some time to eat good food and see a little of DC. Friday I flew to NY to spend the weekend with a friend who is working there. We did a lot of shopping, saw some of the sites, and stayed out way too late! Got to see the sun come up both Sunday and Monday...hadn't gone to bed yet Sunday morning, and was up to head to the airport at that time Monday morning.
Monday I spent with my friend Amanda in DC, and we had an incredible Memorial Day experience. We decided to head to Arlington, and just as we were getting off the metro they were getting ready for President Bush to come through. So we saw him go by in the motorcade coming into Arlington, and then leaving after his laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. We then watched veterans laying wreaths at the Tomb for awhile. We then went to the WWII memorial and spent some time there. Incredibly moving way to spend the day. When I was driving home last night the topic of discussion on the radio was whether Memorial Day has become more about the start of summer (bbqing, boating, etc) than about remembering our soldiers. Spending the day at the memorials and Arlington served as a powerful reminder of what the day is for.
Two days now until I leave, so better get back to packing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Leaving three weeks from today

In the meantime, I've got some exciting activities planned that I can start thinking about now that finals are OVER! First up, packing and heading out of Moscow...after some post-finals celebrating of course. Followed by a week at home with a possible short trip to Seattle thrown in.
Then I head to DC for the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court competition (http://www.wcl.american.edu/hracademy/mcourt/index_en.cfm). Teammate Seth and I finished our brief in, um, April I think? Seems like years. So now we travel to DC for oral arguments. 45 minutes of getting grilled by a panel of judges for those of you lucky enough to never have experienced oral arguments. That said, it should be a lot of fun. Our case this year involved the detention and torture of a woman alleged to be involved in a terrorist organization. Unfortunately, Seth and I are representing the state...but it still provides a great opportunity to explore the international and regional treaties involving torture and inhumane treatment.
After the competition is over I'm taking the train up to NY for my first trip ever to the Big Apple! Going to visit my lovely friend Katherine who got a summer job in a big firm there. Yay! Coming back from NY on Monday, and then off to Cambodia on Thursday!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Here's what I know so far....

From the Cambodian Ministry of Women's affairs website (at http://www.mwva.gov.kh/about_mwva.htm) here is a brief overview of conditions for women in Cambodia:
Two decades of war and civil strife have placed extraordinary strains on the status of women in the country. Cambodian society is marked by a hierarchical order, with notions of power and status conditioning social and gender relations. In this social order, women are considered to be of a lower status relative to men. However, gender relations in Cambodia are undergoing tremendous change, with new opportunities opening up as a result of economic, social and political developments. As Cambodian women pursue these opportunities, they are becoming a more integral part of Cambodia's overall development.
This summer I will be primarily working on domestic violence laws for the country. The website describes the domestic violence situation in greater detail:
Cambodia is a sending, receiving and transit country for trafficking of women and children. An estimated 100,000 women and children are being overview of the trafficked in Cambodia at any given time, with 47% of commercial sex workers stating they were trafficked. Approximately 800 women and children are trafficked into Thailand each month and 400 are deported back by the Thai authorities. Other young girls turn to the sex industry as they have few viable alternatives. Poverty, social upheaval, underdeveloped legal instruments and weak law enforcement are all contributing to the rapid growth of the sex industry.
Domestic violence continues to represent a threat for Cambodian women. Violence against women in the family is a serious problem experienced by a significant number of women. While it is difficult to determine the actual incidence of domestic violence, some indicators suggest that the number of cases is increasing, and an estimated one in four women experience violence in the home.
It is now assumed by social scientists, that unequal access to wealth and goods, frustration due to economic competition, pressure to earn higher income, and work-induced migration are contributing factors to domestic violence. Rampant poverty, cash economy, limited availability of jobs and rises in the price of basic goods and services, act as additional burdens for the already challenged familial and social structures. The involvement of women as primary earners and their increased participation in the labour force, although not necessarily changing their social status, alters the perception of gender roles and increases frustration in male partners.
Soooo...it's going to be a very interesting summer. I'm super excited about getting to go back to Cambodia, and I'm also really looking forward to working with a different legal system that draws heavily from the international system. In particular, it should be interesting to see how some of the broader theories and practices that are generally considered "western," are adapted (or not) to meet the needs of the Cambodian culture. Can't wait! Now, if only I could magically be done with finals!