Access to Justice/Legal Aid:
This is an ongoing activity, where legal advise and services are provided to needy women, the clients that come to PAWLA, either at its main legal aid center or to its five out reach legal aid sub-centers where similar services are given.
Pakistani women have little knowledge of their legal rights. Even if they are aware of them, they are unable to meet the financial requirements of law procedures. To this effect, in 1986, the Pakistan Women''s Lawyers Association (PAWLA) started disseminating organized Legal Aid services at the Legal Center, Kashif Center, Karachi to needy and destitute women having legal problems. The objective of this Project is "Addressing women''s legal needs". So far, besides a service outlet at the head office, sub-centers in five different localities of Karachi are also providing legal aid under the supervision of experienced Law Officers. Field workers promote the services of the center.
A lady law officer who is an advocate of the High Court is available from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day for consultation, mediation, advice and for filing or defending cases in court. A registration fee of Rs. 10/- is charged from each clients. Where a case is to be filed in Court, it is put before senior members of the executive committee where it is considered and appropriate legal action is recommended. Cases are taken up completely free for every poor women or a small legal fee is charged from women who can afford to pay. Expenses are borne by litigants wherever possible, in cases of destitute women, the PAWLA bears the expenses. The center has dealt with several cases of needy women; civil cases concerning money or property, criminal cases, especially concerning women in jail, rent cases, and in particular family and guardianship cases.
The project team carries surveys and initiate a research process to study the impact of its legal aid services. To this effect has a reporting system; computerize records and conducts client / beneficiary follow-up.
For the project to have greater reach, PAWLA networks with other NGOs, more extensively. PAWLA organizes combined seminars; encourages NGOs to direct women with legal problems to PAWLA and maintains a continuous feedback system between the NGOs and clients referred by them.
Through these achievements, the image of women lawyers has improved, they are professionally recognized and the chances of more women becoming judges have increased.
PAWLA will initiate systematic career and training, guidance and counseling to women. This is particularly relevant to women clients who after divorce lose support of the family and for accused women especially in Zina cases, who when released from jail have no family support.
This project has been a catalyst and has been the inspiration and a guide lines for many institutions to start legal aid services in Pakistan. Some other NGOs have also taken up such services as part of an overall country project.
Jail Project is a part of Legal Aid Project.:
A number of women, confined in jail, are facing agony, as they do not have means to fight their cases, or they simply don’t have any idea of what to do in such circumstances. It is this lack of means and unawareness, which puts number of lives on stake. It also affects the lives of those related to such women, in a very destructive manner. Keeping all these facts, Pakistan Women Lawyers'' Association (PAWLA) has devised ‘Jail Project.
PAWLA attends to legal needs of women in jails. Cases of women, who are legally un-represented, are taken up by PAWLA’s law officer who defends them in courts without any charges. The law officers provide services and legal assistance, and thus they get access to justice.
The Legal Awareness Project:
For promotion of legal awareness, PAWLA has produced information material .These includes 14 video films on different legal issues in story form ,series of booklets “Kawateeen Aur Kanoon a Calendar 2005 showing therein how correct and complete filling of Nikahnama safeguard rights of women .PAWLA hold Video Film show programs in different Colleges ,schools, NGOs & CBOs along with Seminars, on an average 147 programs of legal awareness are held every year.
Advocacy For Law Reforms:
The PAWLA has since it very inception been working for Law Reforms especially in areas effecting women and children. Several meetings have been held. When Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto assumed office as Prime Minister, a three days workshop was held, where along with others the Minister for Law was invited and briefed about the reforms necessary, the Reforms to the Family Law Courts Act 1964 were stressed. Several issues have been researched, studied and presented to the public and the governments for action. In 1996 January a Regional Consultation was held and the recommendations for Reforms were tabled and have been vigorously followed up. This effort has consisted of several in house meetings where members of the Executive Counsel and Law Officers have combined together to discuss several laws, which effect women and family. When the Pakistan Law Commission announced their recommendations. The PAWLA immediately called in house meetings with our law officers to discuss the amendments. Several objections were raised and pursued with the Pakistan Law Commission and the Government. Recently on International Women Day on 5th March 2002, a seminar on Law Reforms was held and a Petition for Law Reforms was presented.