PHOTO: Mobeen Ansari
PHOTO: Mobeen Ansari 

A year and a half ago, Mehnaz was a teenager living in Afghanistan. She had friends, went to school and was part of a cycling team.  Then, everything changed.   

“After the Taliban took over, the world of cycling, education, and the world of my dreams all became dark to my eyes. I lost all hope, and my heart was broken,” Mehnaz said. 

Her story was shared during a knowledge building event for World Justice Challenge participants.  WJP is bringing these participants together  through a series of networking events aimed at connecting organizations from around the globe whose work helps improve the rule of the law.  Representatives from more than 25 organizations gathered virtually recently to hear how data drives justice, through stories like Mehnaz’s. 

Today, thanks to support from 2019 World Justice Challenge finalist iProbono, Mehnaz is thriving in Rome. She was part of a special humanitarian program the NGO undertook to evacuate and resettle more than 50 Afghanis, many of whom were part of the same women’s cycling team as Mehnaz. 

 iProbono is collecting testimonies of the evacuated women and men and using this information and other data to document human rights violations, to support asylum cases above and beyond the group the NGO assisted, and demonstrate how pro bono work can provide assistance in humanitarian situations.  

Elsewhere in South Asia, the Red Dot Foundation, winner of this year’s World Justice Challenge in the Equal Rights and Non-Discrimination category, is working to make India’s streets safer after tragedy.  

Ten years ago this month, a young woman was brutally attacked and sexually assaulted on a city bus in Delhi.  She died nearly two weeks after the attack.  Her death brought nationwide protests and was the impetus for the Red Dot Foundation’s Safecity app. 

Sexual and gender-based violence occurs at a high rate in India, according to the country’s National Crime Records Bureau .  The Safecity app allows people to anonymously report incidents.  The app also prompts users on how to report a potential crime to authorities, as well as access nearby medical facilities.  The data entered into the app is published as open-source data and allows local authorities, and regular people, to study trends by location and time of day, among other variables, in order to design relevant solutions – for example, additional patrols, more lighting, and preparing personal safety plans. 

And the data collected shows a surprising pattern – most incidents occur in the early afternoon, not late at night; early evening is the period with the second highest number of incidents.   

In Russia, 2021 World Justice Challenge Finalist the Public Verdict Foundation, offers legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses at the hands of law enforcement.  The Public Verdict Foundation is a member of the Civic Solidarity Platform and produces an annual “Index on Torture” that provides country reports on Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. 

The Public Verdict Foundation uses the Index in its advocacy work, in reports to different international human rights organizations and to demonstrate the issue to governments at the national level.   

The important work these World Justice Challenge finalists provide are critical examples of how data drives justice. 

“We have more of a bottom-up approach, using communities to engage with institutions and we’ve found that not naming and shaming institutions helps with the dialogue,” said Elsa Marie D’Silva, founder and CEO of the Red Dot Foundation.  “At the end of day, institutions want to find solutions but if there is silence and they are not getting the data they can say there is nothing to do.” 

Learn more about the World Justice Challenge. 

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