Posts Tagged ‘newcastle’

Questions from Uganda stump Newcastle schoolgirls

Many of the questions read out during assembly at Newcastle High School for Girls reflected the everyday concerns of teenagers: career ambitions, family, the weather.

Others, less so: HIV infection, rape and how to avoid being forced into marriage before the end of school also came up.

When Hilary French (pictured, centre left), headteacher of the Newcastle upon Tyne independent school, was invited to accompany representatives from the girls’rights charity Plan UK on a trip to Uganda, she asked her pupils to compile a list of questions for their Ugandan counterparts.

“They wrote the kinds of questions you’d expect secondary school girls here to ask,” Mrs French said. “What do you like reading? What subjects do you like at school? What’s your favourite food? Do you go to the cinema? What do you want to be?” She took the questions with her during her  visit to a girls’ school in Kamuli, a rural area of Uganda. And, along with the answers, she returned to Newcastle with a list of reciprocal questions from the Ugandan teenagers.

Some of the questions were exactly what the Newcastle pupils might have expected: “What’s the weather like in your country?” and “Is your country as beautiful as ours?” And then there were others. “My parents want me to get married, and I’m only 13,” one Ugandan girl wrote. “What do you think I should do?”

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Newcastle Lawyer of the year takes Government to task over legal aid at UN in Geneva

A human rights lawyer who took her fight to the United Nations claims the Government lied about cuts to legal aid.

Family law expert Cris McCurley, a partner at Newcastle solicitors Ben Hoare Bell, has spent the past twenty years tackling some of the country’s trickiest cases on child abduction, domestic abuse and forced marriage.

And following Government cut-backs to legal aid – which the Ministry of Justice continue to claim are legal – she was instrumental in a campaign to prove the Government’s actions are a breach of international law.

After giving evidence in Geneva in person, Cris – who was named the Law Society’s Lawyer of the Year for her work – has said the British Government must respond to the UN’s recommendations for change by next year.

Cris, and other colleagues who gave evidence to the organisation, want all victims of abuse to have access to legal aid as well as stopping the current system whereby women must pay to get letters from police and doctors that prove they have been abused.

Across the country cuts to legal aid have so far seen a dramatic rise in people representing themselves in the court room, as well as two high profile walkouts by barristers and solicitors.

Cris said: “One of the reasons why I’m so incensed about it is because there’s been so many lies told by the Government. Call me naive, but I find that shocking.


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