Author: Thomas Valenti

Tom Valenti is an attorney, arbitrator, mediator, trainer and conflict resolution practitioner based in Chicago, IL, but offering services globally.

Afghanistan fails to accord human rights to women a Guest Post by Atifa Amiri

Basically, women’s rights are the most ethical concern that has a lot of history and is also ringed by historical moral theories.images

  • For example, Aristotle (384 B.C to 322 B.C) believed that women were fit only to be subject of men and they are born to be ruled in a constitutional sense, as citizens rule other citizens.
  • He also mentioned in his book “POLITICS”: the salve is wholly lacking the deliberative element, the female has it but it lacks authority.
  • But Kant (1724-1804) on his moral works clarifies that all citizen including the women have the rights and should be encouraged to attempt towards an active condition.

Women’s rights in Afghanistan

The implication of human rights, especially Women’s rights is more complicated in Afghanistan than any definition by the ancient Greek and German, philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche and many more.

Under the Taliban’s regime, women experience indescribably worse conditions and were deprived of their basic rights and had no access to any facilities for better development but, women were given only the most primary access to health care and medical. But even had not freedom of decisions-making and still somehow.

For example, the Burqa is, in fact, a cloth prison that incarcerates not only as a psychological, but also and physical burden on some Afghan women. It was forced by the Taliban, and is another violence that took freedom of choice from women in terms of their lifestyle.

Recognition of women’s rights should be birthrights and fundamental rights everywhere.  However, in Afghanistan,  addressing women’s rights is more challenging thanin the private sphere, because of the customs and the traditions that most of the people follow. In Afghanistan in a huge extent, women have been discriminated against and are struggling every day of their lives.

Challenges:

There are many challenges in addressing the issues of women’s rights in Afghanistan. The three decades of civil war ruined all sectors in Afghanistan which damaged the most but especially the schools and educations center ruined and burnt in different parts of the country.

Education:

  • Literacy, although literacy measures are very high between both males and females in Afghanistan but there are more challenges in women’s primary education. However, annually, in Afghanistan, millions and billions are being spent on the development projects and humanitarian aids and educations is one of them that has very slow growth rates.
  • Lack of proper schools in so many provinces of Afghanistan and the quality of contents and textbooks are opprobriously bad, lack of science lab supplies, regularity of teachers and so on these issues are something so general between both men and women but women are being force from family side to do not go to school which are the main issues.
  • In so many places in Afghanistan, still, women are not allowed to go outside. Many women empowerment projects have been donated by the western countries but have less results in outcomes.

Poverty:

  • Although the Afghan government provide a free educations for all but still due to poverty the poorer families are prefer their son’s educations to daughters.
  • Poverty caused the dismissal of women’s rights in terms of their educations also poverty is the root of all the problems. As Kofi Anan, seventh Secretary-General of United Nations, rightly said “extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.
  • The best policy to address women’s rights must be employment opportunities and networks for social services that support healthy families like, housing support, health care center, and child care.

Violence:

Violence against women is recognized as a major handicap to health and social development. Although this is a common concern in many geographical settings,  especially in the areas with a classic patriarchy. Women are facing challenges rights from their and fights against society at every point in time.

Violence against women in Afghanistan is so challenging, violence by the husband that is both physical and emotional like hitting, cheating, and violence by mother-in-law and other in-laws family is mostly physical violence. This a significant problem among the Afghan women in Afghanistan and I think is directly linked to poverty and economical problem.

Physical violence is one of the clearest and most serious forms of violence against women in Afghanistan and is not only limited to the aforementioned ways.  There other kinds of violence as well that its root can be sought in the culture, traditions and cultural practices like insulting women through harsh and abusive language. However, to a small extent, the prevalence of domestic violence decreased along with the increasing proportions of women to educations.

Women are considered as homemakers:

The other challenge that hinders Afghan women is that  are bound to remain within the framework of their home and the societal pressure demotivated them even before starting their path and most of Afghan men believes that women made to rise children and give birth to children.

Child marriage:

Basically child marriage is the violation of child rights and has a great negative impact on the health, growth, educational opportunities and mental development of a child.  Through child marriage, both girls and boys are suffering  strongly.

However on 9th April 2017, the Ministry of Women Affairs and Ministry of Culture and Information launched a national action plan to annihilate early child marriage but, we could not get a serious result due to lack of implementation of the law is much more important than making the law. So human rights commission and ministry of women affairs must pay attention to the preventions of violence and implementations of the law.

So, in conclusion, the only solutions to get out from the current situation is educations and educated people.

A short commentary view on Afghan women situations   by Atifa Amiri, student of MA political science at JMI University New-Delhi.Picture1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theories of Change: a valuable new contribution to Dispute Resolution field made freely available

John Lande, University of Missouri School of Law, Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus has painstakingly solicited, collected and organized the book in to an interesteing, far-reaching, and thought provoking book that asks each of us in the field to consider what we might be doing better. He has collected a series of essays from over fifty professionals in the field, taking on this assessment of what the future of our field may hold.

Feel free to share this book with others who you think might be interested. John has graciously invited all of us to do this, and has made it a free download. Here is the link to this valuable resource to add to your collection, Theories of Change for the Dispute Resolution Movement: Actionable Ideas to Revitalize Our Movement.

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Students are the future of our field, and this may attract them to our community. So  the book should be shared widely with them as well.

The book is the result of the Theory of Change Symposium, organized by John in 2019. Here’s a post with an index of all the contributions to this symposium.

Included are several pieces describing important techniques to improve dispute resolution practice.  Rosa Abdelnour describes the importance of dealing with emotions in mediation, which may seem obvious, but it bears repeating as many mediators act as if emotions are irrelevant.  Noah Hanft argues that when businesses negotiate contracts, they should put the subject of developing good relationships on the agenda as an intrinsic part of the negotiation from the outset.  In one piece, Michaela Keet, Heather Heavin, and John Lande recommend that practitioners explicitly help parties consider valuable but hard-to-quantify intangible costs of engaging in the litigation process.  In another piece, they recommend a “planned early two-stage mediation” (PETSM) process to improve the quality of parties’ decision-making.  Laurel Tuvim Amaya describes the benefits of participating in reflective practice groups that challenge practitioners to seriously analyze difficult problems in their cases.

Some pieces take on “big picture” issues in our field.  Charlie Irvine urges us to take seriously substantive justice – not just procedural justice or other goals of dispute resolution.  Grande Lum describes why negotiation is especially important to deal with the major social divisions.  Rachel Viscomi suggests that we can use online resources to help bridge deep differences in our society.  Woody Mosten describes several ways that mediation trainings can improve the quality of mediation and include more peacemaking in our work.  Chris Draper envisions possible future uses of technology to promote collaborative justice in dispute resolution.  Lara Fowler suggests ways that the dispute resolution community can help address the existential threat to our planet of climate change.

Two pieces are reminders to take advantage of the Stone Soup Project, geared to faculty resources. The Stone Soup website has everything faculty need to give students great learning experiences through encounters with the real world.  Another piece describes how, with a little bit of extra effort, speakers at educational programs can generate new knowledge by systematically tapping the experiences and perspectives of audience members.

This book has lots of ideas, but no specific plans or suggestions to take any actions. This is left up to the reader to consider and inplement. John does suggest that members of the ADR community would most likely need to undertake some collaborative actions in order to implement the collective suggested changes.

John kindly synthesized the many suggestions in the book into the following broad recommendations:

        • Develop clearer common language of dispute resolution
        • Redefine what we do and who we are
        • Integrate technology into all our work
        • Develop best practice standards
        • Redesign teaching and training curricula
        • Develop and implement a research agenda
        • Develop a searchable dispute resolution bibliographic database
        • Engage the major issues of our times with realistic plans and expectations
        • Attract “all hands on deck”
        • Unbundle and prioritize our lives

As you will see, there’s quite a range of people speaking with very different voices. They are Rosa Abdelnour, Ava Abramowitz, Jim Alfini, Cynthia Alkon, Laurie Amaya, Lisa Amsler, Peter Benner, Debra Berman, Russ Bleemer, Michael Buenger, Alyson Carrel, Sarah Cole, Ben Cook, Chris Draper, Noam Ebner, Deb Eisenberg, Brian Farkas, Lara Fowler, Doug Frenkel, Steve Goldberg, Rebekah Gordon, Michael Green, Jill Gross, Chris Guthrie, Noah Hanft, Heather Heavin, David Henry, Howard Herman, Chris Honeyman, Charlie Irvine, Barney Jordaan, Jane Juliano, Michaela Keet, Randy Kiser, Russell Korobkin, Heather Kulp, John Lande, Michael Lang, Lela Love, Grande Lum, Andrew Mamo, Scott Maravilla, Woody Mosten, Jackie Nolan-Haley, Lydia Nussbaum, Rebecca Price, Nancy Rogers, Colin Rule, Amy Schmitz, Linda Seely, Donna Shestowsky, Jean Sternlight, Donna Stienstra, Tom Valenti, Rachel Viscomi, Nancy Welsh, Roselle Wissler, Doug Yarn.

Finally, if you don’t already subscribe to the Indisputably blog, I encourage you to do so. It is intended to link Dispute Resolution Scholarship, Education, and Practice.  There, you will find a range of interesting posts about various aspects of dispute resolution.

Her fear of falling

by Zakira Rasooli

 

Her fear of falling

She sighed and whispered silently, “May God help and protect the helpless and the struggling ones.”

I looked out the window to find any reason why she uttered these words.Picture1

Looking out of the car window, it appeared to me that I was really looking at a screen playing a movie on structural violence at that moment. A movie that evidently picturizes hunger, suppression, abuse, maltreatment, and the devastations of war.

I was heading home on public transport after spending my day doing field research. I was lost in my thoughts of the disheartening stories of working kids I had collected for my research project when the car door suddenly opened. The woman sitting beside me, who was closest to the door and would have fallen out, had I not held her back. In Afghanistan, drivers pack as many people as they can so they can earn more money per trip and without any consideration for the safety of their passengers.shuttlebus-157-orig

But little did I know that the unexpected opening of the door would present me with another painful, unwrapped story.

Coming back to the door, we realized that it was the driver’s assistant who had opened it to make sure it was latched properly. Nevertheless, it frightened the woman. Her fearful reaction to the opening of the door made the driver’s assistant and driver laugh. My mind hanged to processes. Men’s laughter at a woman’s fear of falling down reminded me of how women are constantly emotionally broken down in my country because of stupid gender rules. It made me contemplate the depths of my insights and discourse about men that were adversely influenced and shaped by the recent harassment cases that I had to struggle and deal with almost every day on the  way to my job. The stories of self-worth and damaging relationships of some female friends who had to compromise self-love and confidence. The narrated stories of women in Kandahar. Particularly, the recent story of a child marriage, in which the girl escaped and returned to her to her parents’ home only to be expelled by her parents and sent back to her husband’s house, later to be beaten and ill-treated  by him and her in-laws.violence-against-women-1468258151-3386

These all contributed to how the incident happening at the moment should have been processed and analyzed. For a while, I was struck by the irritating thoughts that perhaps these men who make the vulnerable go through sexual abuse and exploitation, marital rape, psychological abuse, femicide, slavery, and harassment to satisfy their desires, embody the worst demons in human form. Very well informed of the harm the acts cause, yet making women suffer as if their suffering is a source of pleasure and joy.

However, coming back from my male-bashing thoughts to the reality of the moment, I decided that I had enough of their laughter and the more time went on, the more unbearable it became. I knew I should interfere; I told the men that they should be sorry for their disgraceful behavior, but it was so disappointing that they kept making fun of how they scared the women with the sudden opening of the door. I sensed that my voice was filled with anger and a part of my sub- conscious mind reminded me of the norms of my suppressing culture that a woman must keep in mind while conversing with the opposite gender.

Nevertheless, I shut the conflict inside my head so that I could hear the woman. I noticed her talking to me and complaining about how her last few days had gone by.

She said, “I have been through worst these past few days, this is nothing compared to what I have experienced recently. It is okay, let them be.”

I asked if everything was alright with her. She was sobbing, couldn’t spare time to talk. Indeed, in a male-dominated society like ours, women expressing emotions through crying is considered guile by drama queens. Obviously, a woman having this in mind, wouldn’t cry. Yet, shading tears is the ultimate expression of deep emotional pain.  Having this realization in mind, I knew she was going through a very serious phase but I wondered what that could be. I asked if I could help her but she remained silent. After a while, she burst out that it was her husband.  He expelled her from their home.

This really concerned me about what she would do based on the fact that a lot of women are financially dependent on their husbands. That is why separation put the women in an impossible situation. However, I curiously asked if she had a job. She said she was a teacher and jumped into the topic of what her husband thinks of her as a teacher.

She asserted that “he tells me that I am a pimp”

She later asked me if a school was a place for pimping and pandering, desperately seeking my validation. She further explained how loyal she is to her husband and what treatment she gets in return.

Looking sad, she claimed, “I only have my husband’s number saved on my phone and except for him, no other man calls me anyway. It is that easy, if you set limits to how people treat you, you never get late-night calls from the opposite gender and you wouldn’t go on talking for hours and flirting with them through the phone.”images (1)

I wondered why she was telling me all this until she opened up that her husband got a call from his female colleague late at night, the previous night. He left for the other room and locked the door. He talked for hours with that girl.

“I wouldn’t mind it if it was a formal call and he wouldn’t have issues with me hearing their conversation. It bothered me the whole night but I didn’t dare to talk about it until the next morning when I finally spoke with him.” She said.

She asked the reason why he was doing this to her, but his response came in the form of a severe beating and also him throwing her out of the house. That is why, she was in the car heading to her only sister’s home with no clarity and many concerns about her future, especially now that she is considered a dishonored woman.

I reached my destination and dropped out of the car with many questions in mind. He is the one who breached the sacred bond of marriage, while she remained loyal. He lives free of all social constraints while she is bound to follow them. Yet, despite all this, it is her who was blamed, it was her who was beaten up and thrown out of the home, the one who broke rules of the sacred bond of marriage, not him, never him. Didn’t he have the reason to expel her from their home?

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Did he not have the reason to beat her up?

And did he not have the reason to kick her out of the house?

However, like many times before, I was struck by the fact of how flawed the marriage institutions were in my society. How it perfectly cages women while setting men free to break the rules. The destruction it has wrought on the society. Recalling similar stories I had known. Thinking about how each one of us knows of a story similar but preferring silence. Letting the destructions and sufferings keep winning over us as if both genders, by consent, desire to live this life of inequality, distress, and constant misery.

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Zakira Rasooli is a human rights activist and writer. She is the co-founder of conflict transformation movement named Afghanistan Unites and  is a senior political science student at American University of Afghanistan.

Guest Post from Janene Tuniz: In Mediation Competitions: To Compete as a Mediator, Don’t Compete

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Competing as a mediator in a moot competition is a conundrum. What’s unique about selecting this particular puzzle is that you never meet your fellow competitors. You enter each session with fresh faces to your left and right and a row of important people in front of you, ready to judge your performance. Instead, unlike when you enter as a negotiator, it’s just you. There is no way to gauge how you are doing in comparison to the other mediators in the rooms next door and there is no way to know for sure if you are acting in the right way or saying the right things. You also only have some pieces of the picture, making it difficult to really know what’s going on from the onset. You may be tempted to speak loudly or ensure that your presence is felt but I assure you, that’s not the way.

Although I have never been in a real commercial mediation, I imagine there are ways in which a competition and real life are fundamentally different. For instance, in real life there is real money, real problems and ordinarily a real urgency to reach a settlement. In such instances people don’t necessarily behave in the way that we would like or need them to in order to find a party-driven solution. They may use positional bargaining or withhold information and they may not be sincerely seeking to re-establish trust and open communication. In the CDRC Mediation and Negotiation Competition it’s totally different. There may be some semblance of mistrust but since competitors are judged on their trust building and communication skills they are prepped to use information strategically and with all their might, share and identify real interests.

 

There are, however, many ways in which a competition and real life are exactly the same. At CDRC this year I learnt that it is in these areas the role of the mediator is paramount. To put it simply, like in real life, participants of a mediation competition are nervous and unsure. After training for months, it all culminates in that moment, face to face with the other party, ready to negotiate. The tension in the room before the timer starts is palpable and as a mediator, that’s your moment. What’s perplexing about that moment, however, is the fact that while you are in it, you are not competing.

 

I know it sounds contradictory to enter a competition to be an anti-competitive at the pinnacle moment, but since there are no other “opponents” in the room you are not contending against anyone else. Your job in that moment is not to outshine the negotiators by saying the most impressive things or flamboyantly flaunting the rules and regulations, check-listing through caucus guidelines or confidentiality requirements. It’s important to cover these things, of course, but as the mediator you need to do it in such a way that you address the tension in the room. You alleviate worries and make sure that those who are in direct competition, trust the process and trust you. The moment you open your mouth to speak, you need to settle nerves and establish certainty.

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Trusting the mediation process is something that happens automatically in a competition but getting parties to trust you is something different. Sitting at the head of the table it’s a challenge to take a step back and guide the process instead of leading it, but it is the best way to create an environment of trust. I found the training sessions prior to the competition to be incredibly useful in highlighting this fact. I remember writing down that I should listen for (and respond to) emotions in Tom Valenti’s session entitled “Mediator Tools and Behaviors.” Being able to gauge what people in the room are feeling and validating those feelings is a fundamental step towards developing that trust. I’m not saying that every emotion should be brought under the spot light and observed by everyone at the table, but as the mediator it is imperative that you are able to note changes in body language or tone and react appropriately.

 

It’s impossible to note how people are feeling without being present. Active listening and sincere, honest feedback are imperative in this regard. Summarizing and telling the facts back to the parties in a neutral way is also a great way to show progress and create consensus but proceed with caution – it’s also risky business. Personally, I’m guilty of putting a positive spin on just about everything anyone at the mediation table says. While reframing is a good tool, using it too frequently can quickly backfire if it’s the wrong moment or if the parties are angry and frustrated.

 

Competing as a mediator is riddle worth riddling. It involves a multitude of different skill sets and an ability to know when you are needed and when you are not. It’s also something that to a large extent is based on self-confidence. I learnt so much at the CDRC competition but the message that resonated most was the importance of being true to yourself. There are so many styles and ways of mediating that it’s easy to fit a mould but once you do, it’s difficult to have the flexibility and reactiveness that’s required of you when mediating. Make a concerted effort to be the best version of yourself when you are sitting in the mediator’s seat. If you don’t feel like the best version of you that day, there are a range of things you can do to get to that point – you can give Sabine Walsh and Aled Davies a call for power stance tips and loud clapping tactics.

 

One thing I can say for sure, or rather, one piece of advice I could give to future competitors in the mediator category is that you shouldn’t compete. Obviously don’t treat the mediation like a ping pong match, acting only as an observer (remember to listen for and respond to emotions) but don’t treat it like a competition and don’t treat the people in the room as your competitors. How do you do that in practice? It’s puzzling, I know.

 

*Janene Tuniz is an LL.M Sustainable Development candidate and mediator in the making. She won first prize in Mediation at the CDRC Mediation and Negotiation Competition in 2019 and is the Co-founder and Communications Director of Diciassette which is part of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. She is also the Content Manager and Executive Editor for online publication, The Sustainable Development Watch and is currently completing an internship at the United Nations in Nairobi.

Guest Post : 7th NLIU INADR International Law School Mediation Tournament 2018 – A competition full of learning, many trophies to encourage better performance, and for us, a memory and victory to cherish forever!

I would take moment of deep breathing before I begin with the story of our team just like we did before every round during the tournament. Before being titled the “Overall Winners” and “Best Mediator Team” (for those who need to know, the two main titles) of 7th NLIU INADR International Law School Mediation Tournament, we were just another law students curious enough to learn, more than win. Being first time participants in a competition (I had mooted before in Antitrust Law but Rohan and Sanjhi were participating in a competition for the first time), we expected to learn from other students senior in experience to us but the titles we won debunked our own wrong beliefs.team picture

Institute of Law, Nirma University Team: Twinkle Malukani (3rd year), Rohan Bangia (2nd year) and Sanjhi Agarwal (2nd year)

The journey began with giving intra-murals in Nirma University and secure a good rank to forming a team and believing each other, which very well laid our foundation for team work. We talked and met beyond professional reasons and bonded well which really made our relationship improve. Now this is exactly how Mediation and Negotiation works, securing relationship and Getting a Yes! Now that we started working together on the problem, we initially couldn’t figure out how to prepare. We read a book “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher and William Ury and understood what exactly Negotiation and Mediation means, to be very correct “Principled Negotiation” both in practical day-to-day life and tournament understanding of course resembles it with some variations. Apart from reading the book, we watched many tutorial videos and mock sessions and videos of other competitions to understand better.

However, there is a reason why NLIU INADR is the best tournament in Asia and how it is different from other Negotiation-Mediation Tournament worldwide. It requires all 3 team members do all 3 roles of Client, Counsel (Negotiators) and Mediator in first three Preliminary Rounds. Now that is tricky but a lot of learning. We three made sure to make each other understand each role that we “thought” we were best at and it turned out that NLIU INADR taught us all three roles really well, especially because after very first preliminary round, there is scope for improvement because you listen to your own role’s feedback and then of others too in the room. Now it depends on how you internalize the feedback and suggestions of the judges after every round. The team, even if new to such competition, but internalizes the feedbacks better takes the title. During the tournament, the judges not only pointed out what we did incorrect but also mentioned what we should continue doing, those being our strengths (like Mr. Valenti, Mr. Rogula, Mr. Ellis and many other judges did). It is in best interest of participants to listen carefully and internalize the feedbacks, not only for this competition and other ADR competitions, but also when they actually go out as professional mediators and negotiate in daily life or for professionally cracking a deal.

This tournament taught us the right gesture and correct words in the right moment, to think twice before speaking, to speak only when necessary, to listen actively, be polite even when one wants to let off the steam, to do as negotiators what benefits you but doesn’t harm the other side, to be unbiased and so on. All this learning did not exclude the fun we all had dancing at the cultural night and interactions during training sessions and lunch breaks. NLIU INADR Tournament 2018 is what we will cherish to have been a part of and having performed great for which we extend our gratitude to amazing judges, NLIU tutorials, training sessions, Nirma University and mutually to each other, as a team! We will cherish not only the winning titles but the whole journey and 3 days of learning. Success is not a one-time thing, it is not a fluke. It is not just about the trophies, Learning and Improving and Growing as a person is a victory in itself.

-Twinkle Malukani, Rohan Bangia and Sanjhi Agarwal

Institute of Law, Nirma University Team: Twinkle Malukani (3rd year), Rohan Bangia (2nd year) and Sanjhi Agarwal (2nd year)

Guest Post: Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from Three Young Afghan Students – Sakina, Farangis, and Arezo

Valenti Law

Dear Mrs. Clinton,

We hope you would be healthy, this letter is written by three Afghan girls (Sakina, Farangis, and Arezo). You may wonder about receiving this letter from Afghan girls. You may be happy receiving it, you may not. You might have the time to read or you might not, but we suggest you to it read once. We thought a lot about to whom to write this letter, like: Mr. Donald. J. Trump; the last president of US, Mr. Obama; the ex-President of the US’s wife, Mrs. Michelle Obama; and you Mrs. Hillary Clinton. Finally, you were the one we chose to write this letter for. As a woman you can understand us girls better.

Arezo, Farangis, and Sakina

Mrs. Clinton,

We three have lots of dreams to be heard, we have a lot in our hearts about our futures and goals to be shared with someone —…

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