[EmergingEthnoNetwork] URGENT: seeking expert witness to support indigenous woman
I am forwarding a request from a neuropsychologist treating an indigenous woman here in the US who is at risk of losing her child because the court considers her incapacitated. Please see the request and background information below and reply to me if you have any leads; I will forward them to the doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous on these lists. Thank you!
Rebecca Overmyer-Velázquez, Associate Professor Departamento de Sociología/Department of Sociology Whittier College 13406 Philadelphia St. Whittier CA 90608 562-907-4700 x4353 firstname.lastname@example.org
I am looking for someone who is an expert on indigenous cultures of Mexico to help me confirm what I believe to be true about a patient that I am evaluating. She is a 34 year old woman from Guerrero Mexico, indigenous. She's been brutally beaten, raped, and the state, in its infinite wisdom, has declared her "incapacitated", "retarded", and "schizophrenic". In my opinion, she is neither. She seems quite appropriate for an indigenous young woman given where she seems to have come from. I need to have some literature to support my description/explanation of this young woman as they have taken her child and the State is preparing to terminate her parental rights because of her "mental retardation". She is not the first of this type of case I have seen. I've seen mam, popoluca, Tzotzil, Tzetzal, Otomil, all who were evaluated by English speaking psychologists, using a translator, and diagnosed with various disorders, never even noticing that Spanish was not their first language. The concern is that they have not had any psychologist/examiner that understands her CULTURE they are calling her "retarded" because she doesn't know how to get around in American society on her own. I can't get any actual "documentation" of any IQ tests they've given her, but even if a Spanish speaking psychologist administered testing in Spanish, IT ISN"T VALID - she doesn't speak Spanish as her first langauge, and she has limited understanding of our world/culture, etc. They've already taken two of her children, and are now trying to take the third; the product of a brutal robbery, assault and rape, but that she desperately wants to keep and raise.
Can you help me with this and/or direct me to an "expert" that can? I want some literature to support that because of her culture she does not meet the criteria for Adaptive Deficits nor Mental Retardation. Perhaps you could put me in touch with any anthropologist who has written/studied the various indigenous of Guerrero that could help me support my position. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
I'm actually going to make it part of the official assessment that I'm conducting that I've consulted with anthropologists/experts that it doesn't come off as my personal bias. When we do these court ordered evaluations, the pay is quite low - so I have no "dog in therace" except to ensure that I do the best assessment I can for her that is ethically sound. She cannot tell me the NAME of her indigenous culture, but she is from Coyuca de Catalan and when I pulled up a list of traditional foods for holidays, she recognized several of them by name and told me in detail how she prepares them. She was quite accurate based on descriptions on the internet. This is an adaptive ability - so she clearly isn't retarded. I'm trying to find resources to suggest that the Judge might allow her to keep her son and raise him with assistance, but I have to make them understand that because she cannot demonstrate the skills that we typically measure on IQ tests in our culture, it doesn't mean she is retarded.