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Center Intern Update: Julianna Battenfield

June 23, 2015

I have been in Pretoria, South Africa for 2.5 weeks and I will leave for Cape Town today to spend 3.5 weeks there. I am working at a firm called Motla Conradie, which is involved in cases fighting for religious freedom, against corruption, managing conveyances, and the charge forward to help debtors who have garnishing orders entered against them that authorize creditors to take 100% of their paycheck.

There is a nation-wide reform going on to change the system to potentially cap the garnish % at around 25% of each paycheck and Motla Conradie is taking up the fight in Pretoria. I am not permitted to divulge any more detail via a public forum about our work, but I can tell you that it will help a lot of people!

I am also working for Advocates International at the Advocates Africa branch helping to prepare for the international conference that will be held in Cape Town toward the end of August.

The theme is Religious Liberty: A Touchstone for True Freedom in a Modern World. Religious liberty is not just important for Christians, but for and to all people who want to be able to choose to take a stand for what they believe in, regardless of what that might be. It is the right to be able to believe in and express a viewpoint about morals and values that others might disagree with.

The right to the freedom of speech and the right to religion is instituted in most constitutions in Africa and in constitutions or bills of rights all over the world, but it is being threatened by many different agendas who would seek to silence any voice that would stand for a belief that would oppose their own. This conference will serve as a gathering and an equipping place where attorneys interested in furthering and continuing to ensure that people that hold all different types of religious beliefs and convictions may continue to share their faith with others and talk about controversial topics in peace and without fear.
I have been compiling a report as to where every one of the 54 African nations stands in relation to religious freedom, LGBT rights, abortion, and other related family law issues. I have been living with one of the partners at the firm, Crystal, and her family, and in our spare time we have visited the infamous Lion Park, the Pretoria Zoo (the largest in Africa,) Soweto where Nelson Mandela lived, the Orlando Towers (where I bungee jumped!,) downtown Johannesburg for a food festival, and more. The people in South Africa are overwhelmingly welcoming and hospitable and they do family really, really well.

I am currently, thoughtfully, and prayerfully writing a blog post about what I’ve been learning about race and will post that as soon as I can.

Off to Cape Town!