Meet the Team

Executive Board

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Natasha Latiff, Founder and Executive Director

Natasha first travelled to Afghanistan in 2005 at the age of 17 years where she sponsored a child for 5 years. She spent many summers with children in Kabul learning English/Dari and story-telling through art. She is a Member and Fund-raiser for the ZabuliGirlsSchool in Deh Sabz, a project of CNN Hero nominee Razia Jan.

Currently, Natasha works remotely as a Technical and Legal Advisor in Afghanistan, her new home-base. She has surveyed over 500 book chapters and articles and 50 south-asian court judgments on women’s rights in the family and criminal process. Her work involves strategizing legal arguments in Islamic law and international standards for community and court-room advocacy.

She trains activists on gendered perspectives of law and procedure. As a legal analyst, she conducts training on strategic litigation on mahr, zina, rape, talaq, khul, separation due to harm, maintenance and child custody et al. Her model defence statements have been successfully used in Courts to defend women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Natasha Latiff completed her Bachelor of Law (LL.B) from the University of Warwick Law School, and Master of Law (LL.M) as SOAS, University of London. Her specializations are in International Criminal Law, Gender, Human Rights and Islamic Law and Women’s Rights in International Law.

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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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Nishma Jethwa, Director of Strategy

Nishma has been with SAHR since 2010, coordinating a range of key strategic initiatives and advisory projects as part of the senior leadership team. Nishma completed her BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Warwick in 2008 followed by her Graduate Diploma in Law at the BPP Law School and Legal Practice Course at the College of Law. She qualified as a solicitor at Linklaters LLP, specialising in litigation / dispute resolution. She is currently the Senior Programme Manager at Shiva Foundation, a corporate foundation that specialises in supporting in anti-human trafficking projects in the UK and India. She assists the team at the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre to bring strategic cases to the European Court and to build capacity through mentoring, training and advocacy. She has previously assisted on domestic UK cases at the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit, providing legal representation to victims of trafficking and labour exploitation with an aim to develop jurisprudence to enhance the rights of victims.

Nishma has travelled extensively, working on various human rights projects around the world. In 2011, she worked with prominent Indian and US lawyers at the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, focussing her research on police powers and the preventive detention laws in India. She also worked at Aman Biradari, an organisation that fights for both legal and social justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots. Prior to this, she completed an internship at the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute where she contributed to projects based in Russia, South Thailand and Burma.

Nishma speaks English, Gujarati, Hindi and Spanish and intends to complete her Masters in International Human Rights law with a focus on women’s rights.

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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 Bergamaschi, Liaison Officer and Women Political Participation Researcher

Sara Bergamaschi joined SAHR since 2011 as a Liaison Officer and a Researcher on WPP (Women Political Participation). She has been outreaching and liaising with different international and governmental institutions as well as with local NGOs and civil society organizations in Lebanon and Palestine to establish partnerships and start new programs on Women’s Access to Justice. Sara has contributed to researches and analysis on women’s property and economical rights for a land’s rights project in Afghanistan. Also, she conducted the research project on Women Political Participation in Libya and authored the paper “Evolving Conceptions of Pluralism in Islam: The Future Of Women’s Rights In Post Revolutionary Libya”, which was presented at a conference at the London School of Economics and Political Science(LSE). She is currently carrying out interviews with Women Human Rights Defenders to investigate reported women’s rights violations in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.

In 2013, Sara started working as Women and Children Program Officer with the Italian Development Cooperation in Cairo, Egypt. She has coordinated a Children’s Rights and Family Empowerment project aimed at strengthening the capacities of the Egyptian Council for Childhood and Motherhood in implementing the first National Plan for Children. While in Egypt, she co-founded Sina Network, an initiative to support all refugees in Egypt. She works to assess especially the needs of victims of human trafficking and single female-led households and to set up a Gender Task Force with action plans that can effectively respond to child protection and SGBV risks, including risks related to early marriage.

During her time at GIZ (German Development Cooperation) in Morocco in 2012, Sara supported the office’s advocacy work for the creation of a protection framework for the victims of human trafficking for the purpose of forced labor, child labor, forced marriage and sexual exploitation. Her team formulated policy recommendations for the government regarding the full domestic implementation of the CEDAW Convention and the Palermo Protocol as well as for the elimination of child labor in domestic work. She also researched on the incidence of polygamy, child marriage and GBV for the draft of manuals and pedagogical material.

Sara Bergamaschi completed her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political and Social Science from the Free University Berlin, Germany (2008), and Master of Arts (M.A) in International Affairs with a concentration on International Security Studies (2011). Her areas of expertise lies in Politics of the Middle East, GBV Prevention and Response, Gender Peace and Security, International Humanitarian Law , Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection. Sara is fluent in English, Italian, German and French, and has a good knowledge of Arabic.

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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.

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Mariam Saidan, Legal Communications Officer (Farsi)

Mariam joined Femin Ijtihad in 2011. She completed her masters in Public International Law in 2008 in Tehran. Having been raised in a multi-cultural society and exposed to the effects of diverse ethnic and religious interrelationships, Mariam’s conviction to pursue a meaningful change in children and women’s rights was firmly established. Along with a deeper and greater understanding of human rights in general, these experiences and associated convictions led her to embrace awareness as a true means of confronting the ignorance that stifles progress in these important areas of human rights law. Having completed her studies in Tehran, Mariam moved to the UK in 2008 and completed her LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of Nottingham. She wrote her dissertation on the topic of juvenile prison policy in Europe, focusing specifically on the impact of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on European prison standards. She has also conducted research for the Kurdish Human Rights Project where she participated in various studies and drafted reports on human rights violations cases in countries such as Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for submission to UN bodies.

Currently, Mariam works as a Legal Advisor at the esteemed London-based charity, Kids Company, where she provides child rights advocacy to highly disadvantaged young people. Her main interests lie in children and women’s rights, International Criminal Law and Immigration Law. As a singer songwriter, her passion is to blend social realities and human rights issues with her song lyrics.

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Manisha Basnet, Publications Officer

Manisha Basnet is a Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy candidate at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, with a focus in Development Economics and Human Security. She grew up in Nepal, and has lived in India and USA 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. She​ has worked as a research consultant for socio-economic analyses at Birat Infrastructure Development, Nepal, and also as a director of it’s social responsibility program, BSDI. Additionally, she has worked as an Economic Analyst for FIT Uganda, an agribusiness consulting firm in Uganda. Manisha hopes to continue working in the field of economic and social development.

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Debroshi Barat, Supervising Lawyer

Deborshi Barat is a lawyer from India. He did his 5-year integrated bachelors in Law (B.A. LL.B Hons.) from the National University of Juridical Sciences. He is an enrolled advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi. Deborshi worked as an Associate at the New Delhi offices of S&R Associates, where he specialized in capital markets, corporate advisory and dispute resolution, following which he pursued his independent consultancy at the Calcutta High Court. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Law & Diplomacy at the Fletcher School in Tufts University, USA

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Fahmida Islam, Member

Fahmida Islam has recently completed her BPTC from the University of Law, Birmingham and called to the Bar in November 2013 by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. She has gained LLB and M.A. degree in International Development from the University of Manchester.

Fahmida’s dual interest in development and legal sector drives her to seek out opportunities that suit her interest. She has worked in pro-bono case whilst at the University of Manchester and University of Law. She has also worked as a researcher with Volunteer Uganda in 2012. She hopes to work with influential development organisations to improve Bangladesh’s legal sector in the future.

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, Member

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.

2 thoughts on “Meet the Team”

  1. Pingback: Feature Friday: KARAMAH & Femin Ijtihad | Justice for all
  2. Pingback: Social Experiences of Human Rights Activists | Natasha Latiff

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