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CAP Visiting Researchers and Scholars Program Coordinator:
Mary Welstead, CAP Fellow and Graduate Program Coordinator and a visiting professor at the University of Buckingham in the UK, has a long standing interest in all aspects of family law. She obtained her PhD in law degree from Trinity College Cambridge UK, and has written extensively in the field of family law. In addition to her current appointments, she has held visiting appointments at McGill University in Montreal, the University of Cambridge UK, and the University of Warwick UK. She has lectured on family law to lawyers and the judiciary in Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and from 2003 -2008 helped to set up the new university, SSST, in Sarajevo. Her major research interests in the field of family law relate to law in a multi-cultural society, technological reproduction and surrogacy, post divorce family financial provision, and most recently, the issue of forced marriage in the UK where the removal of children by their families to be forcibly married abroad has become a serious problem for the UK government. New legislation was enacted in 2008 to deal with the issue and further legislation is planned for 2013. Mary is a member of the International Society of Family Law. Click here to email Mary.
A selection of recent publications:
Utsav Singh Bains is a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher for the 2013-14 academic year. He has been actively engaged with child rights issues since the young age of 18. In 2005, moved after reading a newspaper article about the plight of children languishing in jails in the state of Punjab in India, Utsav filed his first Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Utsav then travelled to a childrens' jail in a remote area of the state of Punjab to find children as young as eight years living in hideous conditions. The jail reproduced a prison subculture that condemned children to physical, mental, moral suffering, and even promoted crime. Children were physically and sexually abused. Some children that Utsav interviewed had even lost their mental balance after spending several years inside the childrens' jail.
After listening to disturbing narratives of the children, Utsav requested them to write letters to him detailing the abuse, to substantiate his claims. Utsav then carried out a sting operation at the jail. During the sting operation, Utsav was manhandled and threatened by police officers. Utsav then filed another petition in the High Court giving all the evidence that he had collected. Stunned by the revelations, the High Court took a very serious view of the horrible plight of the children and, in a rare move, summoned top government officials to the Court to give an explanation. The PIL lead to a huge social campaign - public protests were organised by students and civil society. The issue was reported by leading national dailies, and news channels such as NDTV. Ultimately, the court gave a landmark judgment, ordering the release of children from the jails with heavy compensations. The judgment also laid down the rights of prisoners that are being held in jails even after completing their sentences.
Utsav continued to litigate regularly on issues relating to children and women rights to promote systematic change through impact litigation and social awareness campaigns, throughout his law school days at Panjab University, Chandigarh (2005-2011). During law school, he also worked under Prof. Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Government of India, and Justice H.S. Bedi (Judge, Supreme Court of India).
After completing his law degree, Utsav worked as a consultant with NCPCR. At NCPCR, he dealt with complaints, including suo moto. As a state representative of the NCPCR for Punjab and Chandigarh, under the directions of the Supreme Court of India, he submitted a report on the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act in the region. He also worked for a brief period under a member of the National Advisory Council. He assisted with research and documentation of several issues pertaining to the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and Child Protection policies. Later, as a consultant at the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP), Asia Centre, he supported the development of a framework for Youth Worker Associations aimed at professionalising the youth work sector in Commonwealth member states.
In early 2012, Utsav founded Child Rights Protection Network, an organisation dedicated to the mission of providing free legal aid to children and women who face abuse, neglect and injustice. In the very first year of operation of the organisation, Utsav filed numerous PILs some of which lead to landmark judgments and great social impact. The ‘Apna Ghar’ PIL filed by Utsav exposed sexual abuse of over 100 inmates living in a government-aided shelter home for several years. In response to the PIL filed by Utsav, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Following significant national and international pressure by media and civil society, the accused were arrested and the children were rescued and rehabilitated by the state government. The PIL filed by Utsav was mentioned in the US State Department Annual Report on Human Trafficking.
Utsav's work has received significant media attention. He has appeared on various TV shows/ News Channels including CNN-IBN, CNN International, IBN7, Headlines Today, Times Now, NDTV 24x7, PTC and Day & Night News. His views on child rights, justice and protection of women and children from abuse have been quoted in the international, national and regional media, including CNN, Indian Express, Daily Mail UK, Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Deccan Herald, The Tribune, and Dainik Bhaskar. He has given speeches at various places in India as well as in the United States.
Utsav was born in Chandigarh on 16th February 1987. His great grandfather, S. Gurbax Singh, was a freedom fighter who spent more than a decade in British jails during India's fight for independence. His grandfather, Justice Ajit Singh Bains, began his legal practice as an advocate in 1953, and was later appointed Judge at the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1974. He is widely known in Punjab as the 'People's Judge', and has been noted for his bold and public-spirited judgments. His granduncle, Hardial Bains, was the founder of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist–Leninist) and its leader until his death. During his life, Hardial Bains was active in Britain, Ireland, India and Canada. His father, Rajvinder Singh Bains, is an internationally recognised human rights lawyer.
|Sunita Siwach was a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher in 2010-11.|
|Ayako Harada was a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher in 2007-08. She has been engaged in research on children and family law issues involving child abuse and neglect, child custody, and adoption. She served as a CAP-affiliated Visiting Scholar from February 2008 to March 2009. While she was at Harvard, she focused on American adoption policies and practices. She earned her doctoral degree (LL.D) from Kyoto University in 2007. In 2008, she published a book entitled “America’s Struggle with Child Abuse Crisis: Prevention Efforts and Family Welfare Policies” (written in Japanese). Currently she is a Research Associate at Waseda University Institute of Comparative Law, Tokyo, Japan.|
|Liping Wang was a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher in 2006-07. She is a Law Professor at Shandong University School of Law in P. R. China. She is also a member of Chinese People's Political Consulative Conference in Shandong Province, the president of Family Law Association of Shandong Province and a member of Gender & Law Research Center in the Chinese Association of Social Science. Her research and teaching interests include human rights, civil law and issues related to women, children, family and labor. Liping Graduated from Shandong University in 1986 with B.A in Law, from Xiamen University in 1989 with M.A in Civil Law, and from Shandong University in 2004 with Ph. D in Jurisprudence. She was a 2006-2007 Fulbright Research Visiting Scholar in CAP at Harvard Law School. Her publications include: On the Protection of Privacy in the Information Age (Shandong People's Press,2008), Study on the Parenthood Law (Law Press, 2004) , A Jurisprudential Study of Family Law (Shandong People's Press, 2003) , Children's Rights (Shandong People's Press, 2002), as well as numerous law review articles in China (for example, “A Comparative Study on Child Custody Between The U. S. and China”, Legal Forum Vol. 2, 2008 ). She was very active in participating in the legislations relating to family law, women law and children law. She has won Distinguished Women Worker of Shandong Province Award and Excellent Young Professor in Teaching of Shandong University Award for her outstanding work. For more information about her, please visit http://www.law.sdu.edu.cn/teachers/wangliping.htm.|
|Indian Army Colonel Mukul Saxena was a CAP-affiliated Visiting Researcher in 2005-06. While at Harvard, he was engaged in research on the impact of localized conflict/emergency settings on children with particular reference to their treatment under stringent national security laws. His other research interests in the field of child rights include the freedom of expression and right to manifest religious belief. In 2007, he published an article in Symposium on Law and Religion titled, “The French Headscarf and the Right to Manifest Religious Belief” (The University of Detroit Law Review, 2007). Mukul is a graduate of the National Defence Academy, Kharakwasla, India and completed an LLM in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex, UK. He is presently commanding an Indian Army Infantry Battalion in Kashmir and is a Ph.D. fellow at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. He is also a consultant with the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, New Delhi and is presently leading a study for the Commission on substance abuse among children in Northeast India. He has also been actively involved human rights advocacy in the Indian Army.|
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