On May 19, GCWAC Board Member and Graydon Head partner, John Pinney, arranged for a panel discussion on how the United States experience for protecting minority rights might be relevant with regard to Muslim women in Belgium and Western Europe. Maryam H’Madoun, Executive Director of the European Union Chapter of Karamah Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights in Brussels, visited Cincinnati as part of the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) to learn about the civil rights movement in the U.S. for African-Americans, women and religious minorities and how the U.S. experience could be relevant for Muslim women in western Europe.
The discussion, moderated by Pinney, was convened by Chief Judge Susan Dlott of the federal district court in her judicial chambers in Cincinnati. Participants in the panel discussion in addition to Judge Dlott were Jennifer Branch, attorney with Gerhardstein & Branch; Rickell Howard, attorney with the Ohio Law & Policy Center; Roula Allouch, attorney with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company; and Shakila Ahmad, Leader of the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati.
Among the issues discussed was that under U.S. law individuals can bring lawsuits as “private attorneys general,” either themselves individually or collectively as a class action, for the redress of grievances and wrongs and for the recovery of monetary damages against both private parties and governmental agencies. Important to the success of such suits is the part of the law that enables lawyers representing such parties to recover substantial legal fees if their claims prevail. The availability of this type of remedy was viewed by the participants as being a particularly important enforcement tool for protection of minorities, because governmental agencies commonly are reticent to enforce (or even themselves abide by) anti-discrimination laws due to political pressure and influence by the majority population.
Ms. H’Madoun’s visit under the sponsorship of the IVLP was one of about 35 hosted by GCWAC over the past year. Persons interested in participating in IVLP should contact me at email@example.com or 859-448-8984 at the GCWAC.
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