Kimberly Motley has checked off more boxes in the last decade than most of us will do in a lifetime: mother of three, beauty pageant winner, lawyer, and defender of human rights. The 35-year old, who grew up in the projects and never traveled outside of the United States until 2008, now works as a lawyer and human rights advocate in one of the most dangerous countries in the world – Afghanistan.
Motley is my hero for putting her life in grave danger to protect the rights of foreigners and Afghan citizens, who’ve been wrongly accused or not given the right to a fair trial.
You may have heard Motley’s name associated with an Afghan woman known only as Gulnaz. Gulnaz was raped by her cousin’s husband. When she went to police she was thrown in jail and sentenced to 12 years. She gave birth to a daughter, who was born following the attack. She was initially told that she would be released with the condition she married her rapist.
Motley worked tirelessly on the case and won a pardon for Gulnaz from President Karzai of Afghanistan. Motley highlighted that many of the women in Afghan prison are in fact the victims of domestic abuse or rape, which have been dubbed by the judicial system and police as “moral crimes.”
Motley regularly receives threats of death and rape, but despite all this she continues her fight. She was recently quoted in the Daily Beast saying, ““Justice, ethics, protection of human rights—the people deserve it.”