The event was sponsored by LAWC in conjunction with the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI), and the Middle East Partnership Initiative.
The focus on domestic violence is aligned with the mandate of Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016 to develop a comprehensive plan to address domestic violence, including the enactment of legislation that criminalizes domestic violence.
Also attending the event were representatives from the Qatar Foundation for Child and Women Protection and the Family Consulting Center who distributed information material and spoke about the services provided by their agencies.
The students are involved in a year-long domestic violence project in the new Domestic Violence Clinic Course taught by pro bono legal specialist from Gonzaga University Prof Mary Pat Treuthart and attorney Barbara Fritsche, under the direction of ABA-ROLI Country Director DrMarlana Valdez.
They are taught lawyering skills such as interviewing and counseling, oral advocacy, and legislative drafting on the topic of domestic violence. They are also in the process of drafting a comprehensive domestic violence law for Qatar in line with the NDS.
“The participation of the six male students in the Clinic is particularly noteworthy in that they demonstrated that domestic violence is a family and societal issue of importance to everyone in the community, and not a “women’s advocacy issue” as traditionally believed”, Dr Valdez said.
QU President Prof Sheikha Abdulla Al-Misnad made special mention of the students in her weekly newsletter to the QU community, saying: “These young lawyers-in-training are role models for other young men at QU, in Qatar and the region”. She further stated: “I applaud all of the students’ keen sense of community responsibility and commitment…It is a proud moment for us all when what we provide here at QU in our programs and courses translates into a critical community service that will impact individuals, groups, families, and communities in Qatar and contribute to driving social awareness on a wide range of issues”.
LAWC Dean Dr Hassan Okour noted that while the College is focusing on developing lawyers with strong legal skills, programs such as the domestic violence clinic represent a commitment by the College and the students to engage important social issues and contribute to reforms in the legal system that will enable the judiciary, government agencies, service organizations, lawyers, and private citizens to address these issues in more efficient and effective ways.