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Access to Justice!

Despite constitutional guarantee, the poor and the marginalized sections of society in particular face problems while accessing the institutions of justice. There is generally a lack of awareness regarding rights and laws, and for those who are aware of these laws there is weariness towards accessing justice due to the lack of trust in the system, delays and financial constraints. To assist the marginalized towards accessing justice ,it is important to support the on ground interventions using behavior changing techniques ,so create awareness ,knowledge and understanding of the rights of the citizens and the importance of accessing justice amongst all stakeholders.

Domestic violence in District Nankana Sahib is an endemic social problem. According to a study carried out it is estimated that between 30 to 80 percent of women in Nankana Sahib have suffered some form of abuse. An estimated 200 women are killed per year from domestic violence, with dozens of others maimed or disabled. The majority of victims of violence have no legal recourse. Law enforcement does not view domestic violence as a crime and usually refuse to register any cases brought to them. Disabled persons are generally insulted and rarely function as useful members of society. Most of the public places like shopping malls, railway stations, Hotels, and cinemas, educational institutions not accessible to disabled persons. Policies and institution exclude or do not respond positively to the needs of all above issues, which would lead to solutions based on changing attitudes.

RCDS has implemented integrated development projects in Punjab. Through these projects RCDS addressed most of the problems like financial services for poor, matching grants for farmers, productive community physical infrastructure development and social mobilization. RCDS operations covered maximum population under these integrated projects in various districts of the Punjab. In District Nankana Sahib the financial conditions of the communities and females in particular are poor. During community meetings and baseline studies the issues gender based violence, women rights, child rights and violence and rights of the disabled came to light. With the financial support of The Asia Foundation, RCDS launched Access to Justice project in District Nankana Sahib and set up a legal aid center to provide free legal aid to marginalized and poor communities members, particularly females in the area.

Program Objectives

  • Develop and implement a multi-pronged public awareness campaign that increase citizen's knowledge of the laws, which protect their fundamental freedom
  • Strengthen the capacity of existing legal aid centers that provide legal services to those whose rights have been violated
  • Advocate for protection measures and free and fair trial in cases pertaining to religious freedoms
RCDS has established a legal aid center at District Nankana Sahib which provides counseling, referral services and legal assistance to clients. The legal aid centre also help the clients lodge an FIR, sending letter to institutions on behalf of clients in case of violation of their rights by the institution and facilitation in court settlement. Under especially difficult circumstances, financial assistance is also provided to the clients. The legal aid centre also provides psycho-social support to victims of torture. Under the project, RCDS took initiative to develop the networking and linkages with other organizations for experience sharing and working opportunities. Besides, RCDS also developed linkages with the government line departments including social welfare, district police officer, health department and others to ensure speedy and timely justice to the marginalized segments of the society.