The Team

Executive Board

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Natasha Latiff, Founder and Executive Director

Natasha Latiff is the Founder and Executive Director of Femin Ijtihad. In 2009, she completed her Bachelor of Law (LL.B) from the University of Warwick Law School in the U.K. Her studies focused on international human rights law, gender law, international criminal law and Islamic law. Natasha first travelled to Afghanistan in 2005 at the age of 17 years where she sponsored a child for 5 years. She spent her time teaching English with street and village children in Kabul. She is also a Member and Fund-raiser of the Zabuli Girls School in Deh Sabz.

In 2007, she designed and implemented a study inviting 30 Afghan judges, parliamentarians and lawyers in Kabul to consider a gender-sensitive reform of the Afghan law on rape. The conclusions of the research were summarized in a report that discussed the participants’ responses and analyzed alternative legislative approaches that comport with both Islamic law and international human rights law. This inspired the establishment of Femin Ijtihad and the innovation of legal models to argue women’s rights cases using Shariah law and international human rights jurisprudence.

Currently, Natasha works remotely as a Technical and Legal Advisor in Afghanistan, her new home-base. She builds content and designs conversation models on how to enroll the community in exploring gendered perspectives of law and procedure. She also conducts training on strategic litigation in court for lawyers dealing with issues concerning mahr, zina, rape, talaq, khul, separation due to harm, maintenance and child custody.

She is currently reading Masters in Law (LL.M) at University of London, SOAS. Her specializations are in Women’s International Human Rights Law, Gender in Armed Conflict, International Criminal Law, Human Rights in Islamic and International Law and Elementary Farsi Texts.

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Helena Zeweri, Director of Research

Helena first joined Femin Ijtihad in 2009, drawn to the organization’s mission to make nuanced scholarship accessible to different audiences. She is currently pursuing a second MA in anthropology at the New School for Social Research. She received her first MA in Near Eastern Studies from New York University and her BA in Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University. Some of Helena’s research has been featured in the forthcoming Muslim Women’s Digital Geographies (Brill, forthcoming) Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife (ABC-CLIO, 2010), and Encyclopedia of Asian American Culture and Religion (ABC-CLIO forthcoming)

Helena’s research interests lie in the political life of Afghan Americans and the ways in which Afghan Americans position themselves in relation to imagined futures for Afghanistan, especially in the context of contemporary US imperialism. On the side, Helena works as a Communications and Research Associate at Global Language Project, a non-profit that provides after school foreign language instruction in New York City public schools.

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Anna Dugoni, Director of Case Law Program

Anna graduated in International Affairs and Diplomacy in Italy. She then studied at London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on an Erasmus scholarship and focused her research on Law and Society in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Enthused by these charismatic and fascinating topics, she enrolled for a Masters degree in Law at SOAS, where she focused her research on Islamic law and wrote her dissertation on Muslim Arbitration Tribunals in England. She is now working at British Red Cross’ headquarters in London and her long-term aspiration is to become a family lawyer with an expertise in Islamic family law. She has been with F. I. since December 2010 and is currently serving as Director of the Case Law Program.

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Deya Bhattacharya, Senior Legal Researcher

Deya Bhattacharya took up law on a whim, and has ever since believed that law will never have all the answers; that there will always be ruptures between social, political and legal ethos; that there is need for a more nuanced approach to justice. And this is precisely what began her passion for post-conflict justice systems and their administration.

She has been a legal intern for the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Delhi where she was a part of a team of law students who conducted a field research that scrutinized health conditions, position of law and order and education in unprivileged portions of North-West Delhi. Deya has also worked as an intern at the Public Interest Litigation Support And Research Centre (PILSARC) where her love for Indian constitutional law grew. She has also been a correspondent at the Times of India, Calcutta.

Deya wants to combine feminist studies and transitional justice, and believes that an answer to women’s development lies in turbulent but nascent justice systems. She is pursuing her B.A. LL.B. (International Law Hons.) from KIIT School of Law, India. Her other interests range from post-modernism to Doctor Who to food photography.

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Shahla Naimi, Researcher

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Sara Bergasmaschi, Liaison and Outreach Officer

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Kirthi Jayakumar, Legal Researcher

A Peace and Conflict studies enthusiast, Kirthi is a volunteer with the UN. She is presently a Commissioning Editor with e-IR, an online International Relations portal, the Logistics and Constituents Head at The Channel Initiative, working for post-conflict reconstruction in the DRCongo, specifically targeting women. Kirthi works with DeltaWomen, as a writer and with  CAAGLOP, as a Managing Editor and writer on African Policy. Recently, Kirthi was part of the UNICEF-UN Women Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities through her paper titled The Rule of Law to combat Sexual Violence in a Conflict Environment. Kirthi dabbles with Intelligence and Security Analysis with Open Briefing, as an Associate Researcher, at the Asia-Pacific Desk, and runs an International Law Consultancy and Academic Journal called A38. Kirthi has written ad-hoc features for forums that include TransConflict, WorldPulse and PeaceXPeace and is a member of the TrustLaw Network.

Kirthi’s expertise lies in Peace and Conflict, Public International Law, Gender issues, International Humanitarian Law, and in terms of a regional focus, in Afghanistan, the Middle East, DR Congo and South-Asia.

Manisha

Manisha Basnet, Publications Officer

Manisha graduated Magna Cum Laude from Salem College in May 2010 with a BA in International Relations and Economics. She grew up in Nepal, and lived in India as well. Her background and extensive travels around Asia, the Middle East and Europe exposed her to the complexity of human rights and development at an early age. Manisha speaks English, Nepali, Hindi, Urdu and moderate Spanish. While in college she interned with World Relief, NC, as a Case Management Intern and Nepal Investment Bank, Kathmandu, Nepal, as a Business Research Intern. She also interned with the Embassy of Nepal, Washington DC, as a Research Intern where she prepared report on legal statics and human rights issues in Nepal, and presented to the Deputy Chief of Mission. Manisha was selected as a delegate representing Afghanistan in the National Model United Nations, NY 2009. She has also participated in an international business program at Universidad de las Americas Puebla, Mexico and a pre-MBA program at Wake Forest University, NC. In the near future, Manisha hopes to return to school to pursue further studies in International Development.

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Nishma Jethwa, Member

Nishma completed her BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2008 at the University of Warwick and her Graduate Diploma in Law in 2010 at BPP Law. She has now commenced her training contract with Linklaters London.

Nishma speaks English, Gujarati, Hindi and Spanish. She has travelled extensively and worked on several legal and social projects around the world. She particularly enjoyed spending time in Cuzco, Peru where she worked with young children in order to develop their understanding about global politics, culture, religion and human rights. Most recently, she has returned from India completing a stint at the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre where she worked with prominent Indian and US lawyers, focussing her research on police powers and the preventive detention laws in India. She also worked on producing training materials for lawyers and paralegals at Aman Biradari in Gujarat, an organisation that fights for both legal and social justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Prior to this, she worked at the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute where she contributed to projects based in Russia, South Thailand and Burma.

Nishma intends to complete her Masters in International Human Rights law and women’s rights.

Other Members

Natalie Ghosn, Legal Research Intern

Natalie Ghosn is a graduate of Dalhousie University, B.A. in Political Science, Florida Coastal School of Law, J.D. and the University of Miami School of Law, LL.M. in International Law. Ms. Ghosn is currently a licensed attorney in the State of Florida and a member in good standing with the Florida Bar. Ms. Ghosn is also presently pursuing a Ph.D. in International Relations and Comparative Politics at the University of Miami focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region. Ms. Ghosn, although Canadian, has lived in Cairo, Egypt and travels frequently to the Middle East as her routes are of Lebanese Origin. She has a strong commitment to pro bono work and has won awards in this area for this commitment. Ms. Ghosn remains an advocate for women’s rights and has several publications out in the areas of international law. Ms. Ghosn continues to write on important topics in her spare time. Ms. Ghosn joined Femin Ijtihad in 2011 and continues to work with the organization.

Sarah Jones, Social Media Intern

Sarah Jones is an independent journalist and political organizer currently based in London, England. She holds a BA in International Studies from Cedarville University and is now working toward an MA in Postcolonial Culture and Global Policy at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include postcolonial theory, gender, and religious influences on global and domestic policy.

Sneha Deka, Legal Researcher

Sneha is a 4th year law student at ILS Law College, Pune. She has been working with FI since March 2011. Her areas of interests include Constitutional law, International Law & Human Rights and Jurisprudence.

Marge O’Leary

Marge is a graduate of European Law with French (Erasmus Year in Lille II University, France) from Warwick University and is currently a part-time LLM student in International Development Law and Human Rights at Warwick University to finish in September 2011. She is also simultaneously studying for the Bar Professional Training Course to finish June 2012 and is a member of the Honourable Lincoln’s Inn. Work experience that she has done, includes internships with UNICEF, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, Article 19, CORD, Homeless International and UK Migration Lawyers. She aspires to be an International Human Rights Lawyer and Gender Specialist. Marge joined Femin Ijtihad at the beginning of 2008 as a researcher, and then went on to be U.K. Chapter’s Research Co-Ordinator.Furthermore, she is a Trustee/Director of an organization based in Leicester which seeks, through various projects, to encourage women who are not currently employed back into work.  She is also a residential tutor at the University of Warwick, and a member of Soroptomist International Kenilworth and District.

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