Campus event to promote discussion on law, human rights in Afghanistan

September 03, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State Center for Global Studies will be holding an event on Wednesday, Sept. 16 to discuss the Afghan Independent Bar Association (AIBA) and its work with law and human rights in Afghanistan, especially as it pertains to the rights of women and girls. The event will feature the screening of a short film, ''To Kill a Sparrow,'' followed by a discussion and question and answer session. The event will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Lewis Katz Building Auditorium on the University Park campus.

Ahmad Rafi Nadiri, manager of the Afghan Independent Bar Association, and Sam Richards, director of development at Penn State’s World in Conversation Center for Public Diplomacy, will lead the discussion. Sophia McClennen, director of the Center for Global Studies and associate director of the School of International Affairs, will moderate the discussion.

Among many responsibilities, Nadiri ensures the successful implementation of the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) Grant Program designed to train and license Afghan defense attorneys, participates in a legal team to develop a system of Afghan codified law, and forges relationships between the AIBA and other regional actors in the justice system. Richards, also a senior lecturer in sociology at Penn State, is well known for his TEDx Talk, ''Radical Experiment in Empathy.'' Most recently, he has shifted his work to focus on bridging cultural divides — locally, nationally and internationally.

''AIBA’s work in Afghanistan is crucial to the forward movement of Afghan culture and society," Richards said. "While we mostly hear negative stories about Afghanistan in our media, the truth is that many very positive things are happening and one of these things is the growth and expansion of AIBA.''

The film, “To Kill a Sparrow,” follows the story of Soheila, a woman in Afghanistan whose story echoes those of many other women in the country. Inspired by Soheila’s strong-willed determination to fight for her independence and the love of her life, journalist Zohreh Soleimani goes on to uncover the injustices suffered by women living in a traditionally male-dominated society. The film spans more than three years and has won several different awards.

The goal of this event is to promote significant discussion of international law and human rights and, through the work of the Afghan Independent Bar Association, to advocate and raise awareness for women’s rights in Afghanistan.

For more information about the Afghan Independent Bar Association and its work, visit

For a complete listing of the Center for Global Studies’ events throughout the semester, visit

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Last Updated September 08, 2015