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Legal awareness/ Legal literacy

RLEKs legal cell has been actively involved in conducting legal awareness campaigns in backward states amongst most marginalized groups. It has been carrying out awareness generation camps in the States of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jhrakhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh. In order to ensure that laws affecting the common man percolate to the grass-root level legal literacy booklets in simple language and having localized content have been prepared. In the first of its kind initiative in the country preparation of legal literacy booklets in Braille has been undertaken. The legal cell at the organization has also been carrying out action oriented researches on governance, human rights etc.

  • Macabre practice of Witch-hunting- Witch-hunting is essentially a legacy of violence against women in our society. For almost invariably, it is women, especially dalit or adivasi widow women, who are branded as dayans or witches by relatives, villagers who have an eye over their houses or land. RLEK upon knowing the statistics on witch-hunting crimes in Jharkhand organized an open forum “State level Congregation of women with the Higher Judiciary for interaction and solution findings” with the help of National Legal Services Authority where 1000 women, many of them branded as witches, from all districts of Jharkhand from rural areas congregated at the State level meet to voice their concerns and aspirations and solicit concerns. More than 1000 women participated in this event. The poor marginalized SC/ST women belonged to Self-help groups (SHGs) who are visualized as vehicles to bring about affirmative change at the grass-root level. These women SHGs are viewed as agents who would act as pressure groups on social issues.
  • These meets provide a platform to air their grievances and solicit solutions to their problems before the members of the judiciary and concerned officials. The main aim of these trainings and camps is to empower the women and other marginalized communities to claim their rights and entitlement in order to usher in a society based on the sound principles of justice and fight for the eradication of witch craft hunting. Nearly 200 to 150 women are killed every year in India after being tagged as ‘witches’. 

The three day event organized for the SC/ST women was inaugurated by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Altamas Kabir, then Senior Judge Supreme Court of India & Executive Chairman, National Legal Services Authority. Other distinguished guests present were Hon’ble Mrs. Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, then Chief Justice Jharkhand High Court and then Patron-in-chief Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority, presently Hon’ble Judge Supreme court of India, Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.B. Sinha, Former Judge Supreme Court of India, Hon’ble. Mr. Justice M. Y. Iqbal, then Judge High Court of Jharkhand and then Executive Chairman, Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority , presently Hon’ble Judge Supreme court of India and all Hon’ble Judges of Jharkhand High Court.

This event was organized to sensitize sitting judges on this inhume practice violating the rights of women. They affirmed to take up this cause with full vigor. RLEK also filed a PIL in this regard before the Supreme Court of India.

  • As part of theAccess to Justice Intervention supported by Department of Justice, GOI- UNDP in fifteendistricts of three states in India(Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) RLEK carried out an intervention aimed at legally empowering the maginalised communities including minorities with a special focus on women.   For a deeper and wider impact of legal empowerment initiative RLEK hadengaged multiple civil society organisations and sensitizing them about the Access to Justice Programme and social welfare legislations for the marginalised communities. RLEK organized legal empowerment camps for the marginalised sections and women in the interior tribal pockets of Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. This has resulted in the increase in target group’s level of awareness about their rights and recourse available, para-legals within the village community facilitating systematic responses to human rights violations, marginalised groups are effectively voicing their concerns for effective implementation of laws, enhanced capacities civil societies and community based organizations to assist marginalised communities to access justice, enhancement of women’s decision making power etc.
  • As a resource Agency for development of Compendium for legal awareness, information Tool Box on laws, statutory provisions and development programmes and schemes (UP State-specific)the organization has developed Compendium on various laws. RLEK is also developing TOOL BOX containing Training Module and Design, Training Material both in print and audio-visual form, Trainer’s Manual and Legal Awareness Material. RLEK will further, conduct training of 230 trainers to capacitate them to use the compendium and tool box developed for their use under the UNDP-IKEA project titled “Strengthening women’s Social, Economic and Political Empowerment in Jaunpur, Mirzapur and Sant Ravidas Nagar of Uttar Pradesh”.
  • RLEK was also selected as a resource Agency for political and legal empowerment (orientation and sensitisation activities) under the UNDP-IKEA project titled “Strengthening women’s Social, Economic and Political Empowerment in Jaunpur, Mirzapur and Sant Ravidas Nagar of Uttar Pradesh”. It carried out a Training Need Assessment, designed, developed and printed IEC material, developed training module, imparted orientation and sensitisation training to over 2000 women SHG members and conducted pre and post training evaluation. The trainings focused on Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), leadership, communication, gender, government programmes and legal issues such as Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Inheritance Rights of women, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, Free Legal Aid, Labour laws and Right to Information Act, 2005, relevant Government schemes and programmes.

These interventions have led to a strong base of para-legals who address rights violations and provide handholding to the community. Its legal literacy campaigns have provided greater access to knowledge to the people it serves about their rightful dues and how to use the existing mechanisms for their benefit. These interventions promote the due process of law and substantive justice. The legal awareness camps organized are also aimed at bringing just and equitable social order free from caste discrimination and superstitious beliefs including witchcraft.

  • The Law and Environment Protection

This intervention evolves out of 30 years of RLEK’s experience in the field, courtrooms as well as research and training. The objectives are:

  • Activism to create environment awareness at local/regional/national levels through training workshops, seminars, conferences and campaigns.
  • To empower trainees for litigation by making them cognizant of environmental laws of the country particularly with respect to polluters.
  • To establish linkages beyond national boundaries as environmental problems are not restricted within state or national borders.
  • `In the present climate of economic liberalization, to lobby for enactment of clear provisions in Indian environment laws to regulate activities of national and multi-national industries for protection of environment and quality of life of citizens. And undertake wide-spread dissemination of such legal provisions, especially in proposed locations.

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