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

I have advocated for sex worker human rights through Scarlet Alliance, in our submissions on the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012, contribution to the Global Network of Sex Work Projects worldwide consultation on sex work, human rights and the law, involvement in drafting the CEDAW Shadow Report, submissions to the Australian Human Rights Commission, and in an article published in the International Bar Association News.

My PhD research focuses on a human rights approach to regulating pornography, examining concepts of 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.

Between 2005-2009 I was employed as a paralegal, summer clerk and law graduate for corporate law firm Allens, drafting letters of advice and memorandums, undertaking research, attending the Federal and Supreme courts, preparing cross-examination bundles and updating briefs to counsel. During this time I was involved with the Homeless Persons Legal Service; working to recover Stolen Wages with the Indigenous Justice Project; organising fundraising opportunities with the Sydney Children’s Hospital and Darlinghurst Shelter; and was seconded to Resolve Advisors assisting with research for the Federal Court into Indigenous Dispute Resolution.

In 2007 I travelled to Broome on secondment to the Kimberley Land Council as a legal intern for the Aurora Native Title Project to conduct legal and policy research and liaise with Traditional Owners and KLC staff in the area of Native Title.

In 2007-8 I lived in Asmara Eritrea as a Country Office Intern with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), contributing 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.

In 2007 I was a research Intern for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM Australia, now UN Women), researching and preparing briefs for the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York on the theme of “the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child”; preparing UNIFEM position paper for the United Nations Association of Australia on Australia’s performance of UN obligations; preparing UNIFEM’s response to the Government’s Core Document on Human Rights Reporting; liaising with NGO, corporate and government sectors on International Women’s Day and White Ribbon Campaign.

In 2006 I worked as a Casework Assistant at Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre, writing submissions to the Victims Compensation Tribunal and working on case files concerning domestic violence, sexual assault and discrimination.

Whilst at law school, I volunteered with the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and NSW Young Lawyers for Human Rights Ministerial Legal Clinic, assisting a fellow law student and solicitor to interview clients applying for refugee status; drafting applications for Ministerial intervention; and undertaking in-depth country research on elements of persecution under the Refugee Convention.

My electives at Sydney University Law School were anti-discrimination law, law and gender, criminology and international human rights law.

“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