Human Rights

Zahra Stardust UNFPA Eritrea

Working with the United Nations Population Fund in Eritrea 

“Zahra has excellent written and oral communication skills. Her written work is of the highest quality, displaying strong research and analytical skills. She has a warn and engaging personality and shows respect and compassion when liaising with clients who have endured significant trauma.” – Rachael Martin, Principal Solicitor, Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre

My ongoing work in human rights law and policy specialises in sexuality, gender and reproductive health. My particular interest is in the impact of criminalisation of consensual sexual activity upon global public health, and in the role of stigma and discrimination as barriers to human rights and health.

As part of my human rights work I have met with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Trafficking Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, spoken on a panel with United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Anand Grover, and been on the bench for a university law moot with former Australian High Court Justice the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG. I am an active member of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights LGBTIQ sub-committee and the World Association for Sexual Health.

My PhD research examines sexual citizenship, and rights to sexuality education, consensual sexual relations and a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life, drawing upon resolutions at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, Beijing Platform for Action, the Yogyakarta Principles and the WAS Declaration on Sexual Rights.

Working in Asmara, Eritrea as a Country Office Intern with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), I contributed to the design and implementation of an advocacy partnership with four faith-based organisations in support of good adolescent sexual and reproductive health; seeking policy guidance in respect of early marriage practices, female genital cutting, incidence of abortion and obstetric fistula and related reproductive health issues.

With UN Women in Australia, I have prepared briefs for delegates attending the Commission on the Status of Women in New York and written papers reporting on Australia’s performance of UN obligations. On behalf of Scarlet Alliance, I have advocated for better protection of sex worker human rights and been part of drafting the CEDAW Shadow Report, and have published on this issue in the International Bar Association News.

I am particularly invested in the right to bodily integrity, eliminating coercive and involuntary sterilisation upon intersex people, access to transition-related health care for trans and gender diverse people, and easy access to condoms and sterile needles in prisons.

“Zahra is extremely efficient, organised, knowledgeable and courteous. She worked very well independently, as a team member, and with Traditional Owners in what were often trying circumstances.” – Henry Cox, Senior
Anthropologist, Kimberley Land Council