Legal Aid of N.C. Attorney Headlines Women’s History Forum

Attorney Leah Arnold is based in Greenville but represents clients throughout the state as part of Legal Aid of North Carolina's Battered Immigrant Project. She has even traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to offer her legal services pro bono to women and children seeking asylum in America. She is planning a second trip there this spring.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College’s annual Women’s History Month program featured a presentation by attorney Leah Arnold that centered on the “peace and nonviolence” theme of this year’s national women’s history celebration.

A staff attorney with Legal Aid of North Carolina’s Battered Immigrant Project, Arnold represents low-income immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence. It’s a job, she says, in which she is challenged each day “by the brutality of the world and inspired by the resilience that women exhibit in response to it.”

During her presentation at PCC, Arnold said that when she hears the words “peace” and “nonviolence,” she thinks about the many places in the world where they are lacking.

“And when I think of the words ‘peace’ and ‘nonviolence’ in the context of Women’s History Month,” she said, “it’s hard not to think about the fact that one in three women and girls will be a victim of physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. It’s hard not to remember that half of all women who are killed worldwide are killed as a result of domestic or family violence.”

Arnold says much of her workday is spent confronting “violence head on, looking at it soberly, honestly, unflinchingly and then doing what I can, in my own way, to champion healing and justice in its place.”

Last year, Arnold visited Dilley, Tex., to offer legal services pro bono to women and children seeking asylum in the United States. She ended up spending a week listening to mothers being detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center tell stories of hardship in order to provide them “coherent analysis” of their legal claims.

“I’ve worked with a lot of women here in North Carolina who have told me stories about their experiences in the border region, but I wanted to see it for myself,” she said.

In closing out her speech, Arnold encouraged her audience to help make the world a better, more peaceful and less violent place.

“It is our responsibility to find the ways in which we can contribute personally to the greater good,” she said. “… I truly believe that we are the visionary women we’ve been waiting for.”

Co-sponsored by PCC’s Multicultural Activities Committee and Women’s Resource Center, Pitt has held a program each March since 2001 to celebrate Women’s History Month.