Nafisa Ahmed

  • Hosted by Peace Over Violence
  • Sponsored by Cooley LLP, Uber Technologies, Inc.
  • Service location Pasadena , California
  • Law school University of California, Irvine School of Law
  • Issue area Domestic Violence
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Nafisa Ahmed provided advocacy, outreach, and direct legal services to AMEMSA (Arab Middle Eastern Muslim South Asian) domestic violence survivors in the greater Los Angeles area.

While the project focused predominantly on the AMEMSA population, it expanded to give services to survivors of all backgrounds, due to a great unmet need for pro bono family law services in Los Angeles County after 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic left survivors more vulnerable as they were forced to isolate with their abusers, economic burdens increased, and nationwide shutdowns diminished previously available resources. Survivors of domestic violence often struggle with a lack of financial resources, a lack of a support network, and trauma. These and other obstacles prevent them from leaving abusive relationships and getting protection. Survivors are often unrepresented and disadvantaged when navigating the justice system.

Nafisa’s personal connection to the population group motivates her to advocate for survivors to empower themselves and end cycles of abuse.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Nafisa:
  • Provided direct legal services for 107 domestic violence survivors in divorce, restraining order, and immigration matters.
  • Created Know-Your-Rights materials for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. These materials were translated into Arabic, Urdu, and Hindi; distributed to partner organizations; and are now available online.
  • Engaged in community advocacy seminars and partnered with domestic violence organizations to address gender-based violence in the community and battle stigmas.
  • Created a resource called the Trial Advocacy Guide for Self-Represented Litigants in Restraining Order Proceedings.

Next Steps

Nafisa has been accepted into the Attorney General’s Honors Program through the Department of Justice. She will serve as an Attorney Adviser for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, Legal Access Programs Component. The Component works to improve the efficiency of immigration court hearings by increasing access to information and raising the level of representation for individuals appearing before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).


Advocating for AMEMSA Survivors of Domestic Violence

As a Bangladeshi, Muslim immigrant myself, I have witnessed the impact of domestic violence to those close to me and in my community. I want to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Nafisa Ahmed /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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