In the first of our Women's Rights Trailblazer series, Emma Fitzsimons of Garden Court Immigration & Asylum Team reflects on the progress that has been made, the clients who inspire her and the many challenges still to overcome.
"This year, as we approach International Women’s Day 2017, I will be thinking of the women refugees that I’ve represented. My first female client was a remarkable young woman in her 20s, a mother of two, pregnant with her third. She had escaped a truly horrific life of domestic and familial violence and sexual exploitation. Despite that, she persevered through the tribunal process, with what I can only describe as grace. She shared the darkest depths of her story, to protect her children from a similar fate. And persevered, she did.
I also marvel at the British-Afghan foster mum who embraced a scared, withdrawn 15-year old child, and stood by him at every stage of his appeal. He now has refugee status, thanks in part to her unwavering support.
Gender-based refugee claims often involve issues of the intersection of gender, race and class, as well as the particular problem of the insufficient protection against gender-based harm in refugee law. In my work, I try to bring my experience as a former domestic violence volunteer to build trust with the client, as well as bringing an insight into how that trauma impacts on matters like delay in seeking protection.
So on March 8th, I will think of the refugee and migrant women, whom it is a privilege to represent."
At Garden Court Chambers, we are celebrating International Women's Day with a series of events featuring a host of brilliant speakers.
Find out more about the events here on our website and get in touch if via firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in attending. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #BeBoldForChange #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2017