The CWLC is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through programs designed not only to educate women and their loved ones about their rights, but also to facilitate community and state-wide change.
California Habeas Project for Battered Women
Under state law, a limited number of battered women who are in prison for certain violent felonies, including murder of their abuser, may submit a petition for habeas corpus if they were prejudiced by the fact that expert testimony on battering and its effects was not presented during their original trial. CWLC works in collaboration with the USC Law School Post-Conviction Justice Project, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and Free Battered Women to secure pro bono representation for incarcerated battered women who qualify for habeas relief under state law.
Girls & Sports: Title IX Enforcement Project
Both state and federal laws prohibit sex discrimination in sports programs in publicly funded educational institutions and in places of public accommodation. CWLC lectures, issues policy briefs, and testifies before lawmakers about the need to vigorously enforce these laws. To enhance girls’ preparedness for competitive sports, CWLC is one of the few organizations focused on equity at the K-12 level sports programs and Parks and Recreation programs. In collaboration with the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center, CWLC currently represents girls attending Sweetwater High School in the second Title IX class action sports lawsuit ever certified in California for high school students.
Rural Teen Dating Violence Education Project
Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest per capita rates of domestic violence, and approximately 33% of teenagers will experience some degree of dating violence. California schools are legally bound to implement a policy to confront and respond to teen dating violence, but many districts, particular those in rural areas, lack the resources to effectively create and implement these policies. In order to encourage schools to fulfill their legal obligations and to better protect students who are or may become victims of teen dating violence, CWLC provides these school districts with much-needed information and resources, and will host nearly a dozen day-long teen dating violence training sessions in rural communities for school personnel, community advocates and legal services providers in the upcoming months.
Civil Rights of Pregnant and Parenting Students
Despite legal protections against sex discrimination in education, pregnant and parenting students are routinely stigmatized, marginalized, and coerced into attending substandard, non-traditional schools. To protect students’ rights, CWLC travels throughout California to train advocates, legal services attorneys, and school personnel on the educational rights of pregnant and parenting students, including their right to stay in school, participate in all extra-curricular activities, and receive child care and confidential family planning services. CWLC also advocates for innovative policy initiatives to protect the civil rights of pregnant and parenting students.
Murder at Home Project
Intimate partner murder is often viewed as a family tragedy rather than a criminal act of murder, resulting in inadequate responses by the criminal justice system. Murder at Home is a groundbreaking effort to transform criminal justice, community and media responses to intimate murder and intimate violence to ensure that these crimes are taken seriously and addressed appropriately. In October 2005, CWLC released the first volume of its policy report Murder at Home: An Examination of Legal and Community Responses to Intimate Femicide in California. The report chronicles important advancements that have been made to improve legal and community responses to domestic violence in California, assesses the current status of domestic violence response and prevention efforts, and makes recommendations for furthering existing efforts to respond to and prevent domestic violence and domestic violence homicide in California.
Women Veterans Project
More women are serving in the military today than ever before, and the rates at which they serve are expected to increase. Women face unique challenges during and after their military service. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault of women at the hands of their fellow soldiers occurs at much higher rates than in the general population. The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) benefits system is male-focused and ill-equipped to care for women veterans. Many women who have served in the military do not self-identify as “veterans” and are unaware that they are entitled to a whole range of benefits from the VA. CWLC is creating resources to educate women veterans about their benefits and how to access them. Additionally, CWLC is creating a policy brief focusing on the issue of military sexual assault and proposing policy changes to address the problem.
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