News ≫ She’s A Lawyer … A Thespian … And Now A State Department ‘Woman Of Courage’

She’s A Lawyer … A Thespian … And Now A State Department ‘Woman Of Courage’

Mar 18, 2019
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Marini de Livera’s plays are not for the faint of heart. In her home country of Sri Lanka, the pro bono lawyer has found that crimes against women and children often take place behind closed doors — in homes, orphanages and schools. With her traveling theater group, de Livera seeks to shed light on the human rights abuses in her country by putting the violence on stage, front and center.

“There are beautiful laws in the law books,” she says. “But when I went out to the slums, to the rural areas, to conflict-ridden areas, I found what is in the law books is not a practical reality.”

A pro bono attorney with a degree in speech and drama from Trinity College London, de Livera has spent her career using theater to ensure that the lofty lessons she learned in law school can be used to assist Sri Lankans who are unlikely to ever see an attorney.

Her dedication to helping women and child victims of crime has made her one of the 10 recipients of the 2019 International Women of Courage award, a prize presented by the U.S. Department of State to women who have risked their lives fighting for peace. At the award ceremony on Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called De Livera “a crusader against child exploitation.” De Livera has served as the chairperson of Sri Lanka’s child welfare agency, the National Child Protection Authority, and now runs Sisters at Law, an advocacy group for impoverished women and children.

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