Choice of forum

The extensive linkages between the formal and informal system may lead individuals to “shop” for justice across sectors in order to find the solution that will meet their needs based on cost, accessibility, perceived fairness, and available remedies. (UK Department for International Development, 2004). Individuals may go back and forth between the two systems, or may progress from very informal mechanisms to highly structured state-sponsored courts. Although multiple forums may theoretically be available, many women around the world still have few real options for justice because of the discrimination they face or because of social or logistical pressures that force them to use only one of the many forums available. This is particularly the case for women in some religious or ethnic communities. In Afghanistan for example, women often have no real options for justice other than traditional mechanisms, such as male-dominated jirgas. Programmes implemented by UNIFEM (now UN Women) in partnership with local organizations in Afghanistan attempt to increase women’s options by training female paralegals, providing court accompaniment, and providing legal assistance services. (UNIFEM-Afghanistan, 2008).

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