Monday, January 28, 2008

Paralegals Help Bangladeshi Women

In Bangladesh, paralegals working for the Banchte Shekha Foundation are volunteers trained in Muslim family law. They assist villagers with dowry, marital disputes, legal divorce, and inheritance. They also provide information to villagers about their rights, and they participate in the shalish, the village form of mediation in Bangladesh.

Three hundred and fifty women have been trained so far as paralegals. They work under the direction of one of the earliest Banchte Shekha members, Rokeya Sattar, herself a village woman who was married at thirteen and abandoned at twenty-two with her four children.

The paralegals have proven to be very effective. By July 1991, they had settled 2,119 disputes at the village level and effected 2,382 marriages without dowry. Attorneys who have evaluated the program have been struck by the poise and confidence of the women as they put their cases before the shalish or hold their own in difficult negotiations.

The legal program has been further strengthened by Asia Foundation support that gives the women the money and the clout to say that they will take a case to court and litigate if mediation fails. In the first four years of the program they have won 278 court cases.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t know how Bangladeshi women do it, but they deserve more respect than they receive. Regardless of whether raising a child or having a job and feed a whole family, the life is hard but these women are strong.



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    call Bangladesh

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