Longtime PJALS member and Gonzaga law professor Mary Pat Treuthart spent her spring semester 2012 sabbatical at Qatar University College of Law in Doha, Qatar. The Islamic Gulf State of Qatar, located on the northeast coast of the Arabian peninsula, is an independent Emirate of 1.6 million people. Qatar is estimated to have the highest per capita GDP in the world as a result of its off-shore petroleum and natural gas reserves.
As a pro bono legal specialist under the auspices of the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA—ROLI), Treuthart and Illinois lawyer Barbara Fritsche co-taught two sections of a domestic violence clinic course to 19 women and 6 men. During the first annual Qatar Domestic Violence Awareness Week in March, the students made a series of presentations designed to educate participants about the psychological, social, economic, and legal aspects of domestic violence.
The capstone project for the semester involved drafting initial provisions for a domestic violence criminal law. According to Treuthart, “Qatar currently has no laws that address DV but the country’s National Development Strategy (NDS) 2011-2016 requires the passage of legislation to criminalize domestic violence. In addition, Qatar is a recent signatory to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The students’ work in this course is an important first step to comport with the NDS mandate and the equality obligations under CEDAW.”
On May 28, the students held a press conference where they unveiled their draft legislation along with their Action Plan to Stop Domestic Violence in Qatar. The next step will be to present the students’ work to the Supreme Council of Family Affairs for its consideration. Treuthart viewed her volunteer work in Qatar as “the highlight of an exciting year spent in various locales across the globe working on women’s human rights issues.”