Legal Aid For Women in JailsSep 03 2015 · 0 comments · Projects
The Voice was started in 2000 as a group of six graduate students who were doing graduation and were working part time. They were moved and overwhelmed by the disabilities and miseries of the Orphans and Disabled children around them in the society. Therefore they decided to help the children from their own income, and with the passage of time they kept on studying and helping the poor children. Now they have become a strong educated group among the society that is willing to support and help the destitute children through their own sources and through the help of the other people who are willing to help these forgotten poor creatures of God with Love and Dedication. The Voice is providing education, health, skills, and reinstatement to the destitute children and to build up the alleviation, cooperation and coordination between them and the society. The Voice is working for more than 60 children that are disabled/handicapped and over fifty children that are orphans and over 95 street children with poor back ground or are abused as child labour and Children in jails. The work has already being carried out in the regions of the Punjab, with friends’ until now. Currently ninety five children are receiving a regular helping hand although not so proper in accordance to their expectations or requirements but still a support that is at least better than nothing.
The Voice has started helping the persecuted Christians in need in 2009. The Voice helps them legally, by representing them in the courts, provide them shelters if in desperate needs. The cases upon which the Voice society is working are mainly the cases of religious persecution in any or all forms. Now the Voice is in a position to help and support the victims of religious persecution in a bold and broader way. Now there are more than 500 Christian individuals that are getting legal help and support through The Voice Society. The voice is also working for the rights of the Women providing them free legal Aid and help in the cases of Blasphemy, fake cases due to religion(no matter whether the cases are of theft against the female domestic workers ) Rape, Domestic Violence, Forced Conversion, Bonded Labor etc. Moreover The Voice is also helping the Brick kiln bonded labors in general by relieving them from the bondage and providing them opportunities or connecting them with people that can finance them directly for any Micro-business opportunity. As it is a known fact that there are only 3% Christians in Pakistan and Majority among them is poor, the living standards are very meagre that they can hardly fulfil their bread and butter for daily life. Especially in the remote and rural areas the life is very difficult for the Christians. Christians have to face many challenges of Discrimination in every day field of life on the basis of their religion, and poverty is yet another challenge. Moreover the majority among Christians is illiterate or very less educated and therefore has very minimal paying jobs e.g. laborers or farmers etc., therefore there are the maximum reasons and chances for the Christians to be exposed towards violence and discrimination. As it is obvious that women are the most persecuted group among the human beings living in Pakistan therefore a strong need was felt by the voice group to work upon such a project that could defend the causes and rights of women, and for the persecuted Christians. For this purpose The Voice has initiated a program for women empowerment that includes Adult Education, technical skills and legal help and awareness.
“Defend the Cause of the weak and fatherless: maintain the right of the poor and oppressed”, The Voice Society is a non-political, non-governmental and non-profit organization. it’s motto is “Help those who are no able to help themselves” The Voice Society envisions a global culture of peace based on justice, solidarity, inclusiveness, shared responsibility, harmony, cooperation, compassion, love, wisdom, goodwill and reverence for the sacredness of all life through active peaceful engagement. Infused with a foundation of spirituality and values which are universal in nature. The Voice Society is resolved to help bring about a culture in which we, the peoples of the world, can address together our common global concerns in a positive, holistic and transforming way and live together in peace with one another, thus realizing the core objectives of Values and Humanity.
The goals of the Voice Society for this particular project are to address the human and women rights issues legally and not only in Lahore but in the conservative regions of Punjab in the sub-urbs of Lahore/Punjab where there is a dire need of legal work for the women. For this purpose the Legal team of lawyers in every region of Punjab is present to help and assist the women in need. Their issues are brought up in the courts and to the International Media so that a positive and influential impact may occur on the courts and on the legal framework of the Country. The result is success in many cases like Shamim Bibi, Sajid Masih, Jamil Masih, Ishaq Maish, Ashar and others, Rehmat Bibi, Arshad Masih, Parveen Bibi, Noreen Bibi,Pastor Kelvin and many more(All cannot be listed here) etc. The long term impact will be a confident and well-aware society especially for the women where they could raise their voices against discrimination and un- justice themselves. This will be done through proper and regular guidance through seminars on small scales and material; distribution where required.
The Voice Society is registered as a Non-Profit, Non-Religious, non-political and Non-Government Organization in accordance with the registration Act 1980.
Introduction/Project outline (A brief intro to the problem and your presently suggested intervention)
The Voice society is working for the legal assistance of the people in the Province of Punjab. Although The Voice is a non-religious organization, but we chose the most affected group that deserves help most. . Besides that the Voice Society is inclined to help the women in need by not only helping them through legal assistance but also helps them by providing them shelter and Medical help in the difficult times. Today almost every second woman is facing persecution, forced conversion, life threats and Blasphemy threats. Therefore the Voice society is helping the women in difficult situation by whatever means they want or circumstances are. Women are the biggest minority in Majority in Pakistan and especially in our area of work i.e. women are the most vulnerable groups among the other minorities to attract persecution and discrimination.
According to our survey and the reports there are about 59 organizations of Taliban in Pakistan that are intended to Impose Islam throughout Pakistan. “The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has said the recent attack at a Church in Peshawar that killed over 80 people was in ‘accordance with the Sharia’, but claimed that neither it nor any of its sub-groups were involved in the bombing. “We didn’t carry out the Church attack. However, we believe it’s according to the Sharia,” TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid told the BBC Urdu in a telephone interview from an undisclosed location.
In such Circumstances when Pakistan is declared to be the most dangerous state for women is ranking number 3 in the world the need to help women reached to its most. The Voice in such circumstances is working currently for the persecuted women who are sent to jail and are victimized on the basis of their Gender.
The Voice is working for such poor and persecuted group of women because we feel that there is a need of many people like us to help the society. There are a number of areas in which the Voice works to support women legally and socially. The Voice helps the women in the following cases: Blasphemy, Forced Conversions, Rape, forced marriages, Domestic Violence, torture, Public Violence; women bonded labor, harassment at work places, kidnapping, forced detention and forced prostitution etc. women in imprisonment due to false allegations etc.
The Voice will help women from religions and groups e.g., Muslims, Hindus and Ahmadia etc.
The government of Pakistan has failed to protect individuals particularly women, religious minorities and children from violence and other human rights abuses committed in the home, in the community, and while in legal custody. It has failed to ensure legal redress after violations have occurred. In addition, Pakistan continues to impose the death penalty on women as well, convicted of crimes and now it has approved the death sentence for the Blasphemy Victims previously it was either death sentence or the life imprisonment.
The Voice provide the women victims free legal Aid, fight their cases in the courts, in Police stations, conduct habeas/recovery missions along with the police in the cases of Kidnapping and forced detention and forced prostitution etc. Moreover The Voice also helps women by guiding them about the nature of their cases and circumstances. The Voice also provides shelter in some exceptional cases to the women who are recovered and cannot go back to their particular place/area of living due to life threats or family acceptance etc. E.g. in the cases of Blasphemy, forced conversion or forced marriages the family of the victim do not accept the victim due to the social pressure.
The Voice also visits Jails on monthly or quarterly bases, collects the data of the women prisoners, conduct meetings with the shortlisted prisoners or their families and arrange for their releases from jails by applying bails and furnishing their bail bonds in the court.
Project Rationale (Relevance of intervention to the problem solution)
In Pakistan the story of a woman’s deprivations start even before her birth, because the girl-child is not a particularly ‘wanted’ child. Her life is a journey of subordination. When she is young her father decides for her on matters ranging from whether she will get any education, to the all-important matters of whom she would marry. After marriage, her husband and her in-laws get hold of her reins and decide matters on her behalf; like shall she or shall she not have a child every year, or whether she would produce only boys, or whether she can seek independent employment and so on. Finally when she becomes old and her husband gets weak or may have gone already, it is her son or sons who decide her fate in the declining years of her life. As if this is not enough, the whole society acts as an oppressor, browbeating her in to obedience. In addition to that, women in Pakistan face all kinds of gross violence and abuse at the hands of the male perpetuators, family members and state agents. Multiple forms of violence include rape; domestic abuse as spousal murder, mutilation, burning and disfiguring faces by acid, beatings; ritual honor-killings and custodial abuse and torture. Moreover several hundred women and girls die each year in so-called ‘honor-killings’ in Pakistan, in a backdrop to government inaction. She is killed like a bird in family dispute to create evidence of “illicit” connections and cover them under the garb of “grave and sudden provocation” to escape severe punishment. The practice of Summary-killing of a woman suspected of an illicit relationship, known as ‘Karo Kari’ in Sindh and Baluchistan, is known to occur in all parts of the country. Kari’s (the females suspected of illicit relationships) remain dishonored even after death. Their bodies are thrown in rivers or buried in special hidden Kari graveyards Women who report rape or sexual harassment encounter a series of obstacles. These include not only the police, who resist filing their claims and misreport their statements but also the medico-legal doctors, who focus more on their virginity status and lack the training and expertise to conduct adequate examinations. Furthermore, women who file charges open themselves up to the possibility of being prosecuted for illicit sex if they fail to ‘prove’ rape under the 1979 Hudood Ordinance which criminalizes adultery and fornication. As a result, when women victims of violence resort to the judicial system for redress, they are more likely to find further abuse and victimization. As far as domestic violence is concerned, it is the most under-reported crime because it is generally condoned by social customs and considered as a private family matter. The two main kinds of violence discussed normally are domestic violence, including burnings and disfiguring bodies by acid and ritual honor-killings. It also pinpoints the double standards of our police as majority of the women are put behind the bars under the Zina Ordinance.
Therefore there is a need felt by The Voice to empower women, give them awareness about their legal and social rights and make justice accessible to them by all means in order to reduce the social Evils of discrimination among women. It will create a more successful community and Nation. By empowering women and giving them awareness about their rights, about education, and making justice approachable to them we will be able to create a stable, Just and successful society, thus Country. It is a known fact that the Countries having women among them in all fields of life are more successful and strong. The legislation having women’s intervention in their rules is more stable and the business firms having women in their key posts are more successful. Therefore there is a need to empower our Pakistani women to participate in all fields of life and to live with Dignity and Respect. It will only be done if Justice is accessible to every woman and women know their rights and Duties well.
Objectives (Specific and identified objectives of the suggested intervention)
The main objective of this project is to provide women in Punjab a better approach towards their right to Justice and Empower them with the knowledge of their basic rights socially and legally. The idea of this project is to provide free legal Aid and Assistance to the women Clients, moreover the women in Jails in false cases or in the cases related to persecution will be set free with the help of this project. There are a number of objectives that can be fulfilled through this intervention. They are as follows:
- The women all over Punjab will get free legal Aid and assistance in their legal and social matters, and the Justice will be accessible to the women in need
- The women will be able to know and practice their rights and share information through constant counselling and sharing. This will be done by conducting awareness programs and seminars for the rights and empowerment of women.
- The Voice is also running Centers in Various cities and sub-urbs of Punjab i.e. in Lahore and Okara for the Empowerment of the women where they can learn various skills to practice in their lives and earn some money e.g. stitching, sewing, Embroidery and beautician courses. With the help of this program the Voice will empower the women to find their own identity and help for their families.
- The Voice is helping through this project, women in Jail that are persecuted whether in false cases or in the cases of discrimination etc. the women that are domestic workers and are house maids are mostly involved in the false cases of theft by the owners due to several reasons and are unable to furnish their bail bonds, will be helped. The women charged under Blasphemy and had not received any legal help yet will be helped. The women implicated in false charges of Zina because they were raped and did not received any justice yet will be helped. Young girls jailed under false allegations will be helped (depending upon the situation of the target group and the case filed it will be decided by the Voice team visiting the jail whether a particular woman falls under the criteria or not. The team will decide accordingly).
- The number of beneficiaries in this project will be varying between 20-25 women released, paid bail bonds and receiving free legal Aid for the rest of the trial of the case pending in the courts. In other words the Voice will be able to free and rescue about 20-25 women per year through this project.
- The Voice also helps the women on Brick kilns as bonded labors, who do not get their wages in accordance with their work and those who are detained to work forcefully. The Voice will help them legally and provide them Justice and legal security.
- The Voice also raises Voice against the Child marriages, and it needs proper planning and effort to decrease the Child marriages and thus decrease the ratio of deaths and Violence against Child mothers and child wives.
Impacts and outcomes expected
The impact of this project will be phenomenal, because the women at large will be able to receive free legal help and assistance. When they receive what they want i.e. JUSTICE they will be able to impress and attract more women to know about their rights and to raise their Voices against the Social Evils thus they will attain their dignity and self-respect. It will definitely decrease the women persecution and Violence Ratio with the passage of time.
Right now there are more than 1500 women that are getting free legal Aid from the platform of the Voice and the Voice is consistent to increase the number of women seeking relief. With the help of this project this number of women will increase and thus we will find a more stable, successful and aware society of women among us. We also teach women to pass their knowledge about their social rights in their homes, neighborhoods’ and in their surroundings. The outcome will be a success and we can measure the results with the help of our attained results from courts, out of court settlement records and Police records.
Activities / strategy planning (plan of action)
The activities will involve the seminars, workshops and awareness programs from time to time depend upon the Budget approved. But we plan at least six programs a year to make this project successful. Apart from the formal awareness programs we also believe in informal programs that cost less but work more efficiently i.e. counselling women clients about their rights and encourage them to pass on this knowledge in their fellow women and groups etc. this enhance the ability of women to spread a word and it also encourage other women to fight for their rights and Justice. It also increases awareness about the rights of the girls and their mothers to control the Child marriages and forced marriages and conversions.
The present activities involve the following steps:
- The safety and security of the persecution victims such as the victims of Blasphemy cases, Forced conversion cases and in the cases of Rape and sexual Assault and forced Prostitution etc. the Protection and security of victims in the difficult times.
- Surety of the fact that justice is provided to our target group i.e. women in the right time, and Their queries are entertained, addressed and advise accordingly.
- Conduction of Jail visits in order to locate women and Children abducted in jails, filing their Bails and conduction of their trials in the courts along with the religious and moral counselling and teaching.
Timeframe of the Project (a table of the monthly actions that your organization would like to take during the course of the project)
The Voice is an organization that provides free legal Aid and assistance basically therefore in accordance with our work we do not have time frame or limits to work. It all depends upon the people contacting us and in need of legal help or assistance. The planned activities for this particular project are as under:
|Month||Objective||Activities Planned||Projected Result|
|Oct 2014||Jail visit Kot Lakhpat Lahore.||Data collection and selection of target group+ meeting with the prisoner woman (chosen for help) in order to get an insight of her case with the Voice team members visiting the Jail.||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely|
|Dec 2014||Jail visit Camp Jail Lahore.||Do||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely.|
|Feb 2015||Jail Visit District jail Sheikhupura||Do||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely.|
|April 2015||Jail Vist District Jail Gujaranwala||Do||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely.|
|July 2015||Jail Visit District Kasur||Do||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely.|
|Sept 2015||Jail Visit Shaiwal District Jail.||Do||Women will be able to discuss their problems or cases freely.|