Many women and girls are not aware of laws on violence against women, of their legal rights, or how to exercise these rights. “Legal awareness” is necessary for women in all nations so that they can affirmatively claim their rights. When NGOs provide legal awareness programs for women and girls, NGOs can benefit due to:
Steps to improving legal awareness for women and girls include:
Colombia – Legal Awareness Project Provides Hotline for Potential Trafficking Victims
In Colombia, a survey was conducted to determine what factors make someone vulnerable to human trafficking. It found that a victim might fit this profile:
Based upon these results, the International Office for Migration (IOM) Mission in Colombia designed an awareness and prevention campaign which provided all Colombians with a hotline to support informed job offer decisions. Success was demonstrated by a 400% increase in calls to the hotline in just one year.
CASE STUDY: Producing a Resource Manual on Violence against Women with Disabilities
- Information on how women’s refuges and crisis services could develop services and programmes for women with disabilities.
- Information about women with disabilities tailored for service providers as well as the broader community.
- An annotated bibliography of resource materials.
- Stories, poetry, and artwork from disabled women who have experienced violence, including strategies to escape the violence. Examples of flyers soliciting input are included in the report.
- A guide to services at the state/territory, regional, and national level.
Four books were developed for the Resource Manual: More Than Just a Ramp; It’s Not OK It’s Violence; A Life Like Mine! narratives from women with disabilities who experience violence; and Forgotten sisters: a global review of violence against women with disabilities.
The group also developed a feedback/evaluation form. Questions included:
They gave careful consideration to producing the information in accessible formats, and consulted with Vision Australia, a leading provider of blindness and low vision services. The Resource Manual is available in the following formats:
The project had a number of positive outcomes, including the establishment of a national conference on women and disabilities, and a day-long summit on violence against women with disabilities.
To order a CD-ROM of the Resource Manual, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Women With Disabilities Australia. 2007. ‘Development of a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities’.
Kenya – Training for Key Stakeholders on New Sexual Offences Act
Kenya passed a new Sexual Offences Act in 2006. With the passage of the Act, a former Minister of Parliament began a process of undertaking awareness campaigns to ensure implementation of the Act at all levels within the Kenyan society through CLICK (Centre for Legal Information and Communication in Kenya), a human rights NGO at which she is a chairperson. CLICK developed a programme that targets school girls with legal information about the provisions of the legislation. CLICK works through school clubs to provide one-day trainings for girls that match education on provisions of the new law (especially those related to reporting) with other types of education including self-defense training and career development. The programme also attempts to match young women with adult women as mentors. Because members of CLICK’s board of directors have been or are influential members of the Kenyan Parliament, CLICK draws on their networks to find mentors for young women.
CLICK has been involved in training of judges (in collaboration with Kenya Women Judges Association, CLICK was instrumental in the development of a training manual for judicial officers on the Sexual Offences Act), parliamentarians, and provincial administrators on the provisions of the new law. Provincial administrators, including district officers and local chiefs, are often the first people to hear about crimes of sexual violence committed in the rural areas. Although a comprehensive programme evaluation has not been completed, CLICK notes that anecdotal experience demonstrates that the training and awareness-raising has made a difference in public attitudes about sexual violence. Girls appear more willing to report violence and the justice system takes the cases more seriously, specifically in the form of more severe sentences for perpetrators.
Source: Interview with Felix Makoyo, Executive Director, CLICK (March 2011).
Indonesia – Volunteers provide legal assistance
Justice for the Poor and Perempuan Kepala Keluarga have started a Women’s Legal Empowerment Programme in certain provinces. Trained community volunteers provide information on issues involving divorce, inheritance and employment rights, domestic violence, and children’s rights, and help in filing petitions to female heads-of-households. The programme brings in representatives from the justice sector and local government for group consultations and question-and-answer periods. The women have stated that “…meeting legal officers through [the Programme] reduces their anxiety about the legal procedure.”
Source: World Bank. 2007. A Framework for Strengthening Access to Justice in Indonesia.
India- Raising Legal Awareness
The NGO Marg in New Delhi, India, has a Legal Literacy Programme for which it produces a variety of legal awareness training materials, including books, manuals, posters, pamphlets, radio plays, and films. Marg has written a series of legal manuals in Hindi (Hamare Kanoon) and in English (Our Laws) which explain 25 laws in easy-to-understand language. Marg has produced 10 films, Bol Bosanto, that utilize songs and action to facilitate interest. Marg has also developed a series of audio cassettes based on the films.
Marg conducts legal literacy workshops for rural, urban, and student populations. The workshops are planned for about 30 people and incorporate interactive strategies such as games, songs, role-plays, and the Bol Bosanto films. Marg also conducts training programmes for trainers, students, and volunteers who will bring legal awareness to remote areas.
In one success story, a partner NGO revealed that shortly after Marg conducted a legal literacy workshop, two of the NGO workers had been raped. Armed with the new information about their rights, the victims lodged a complaint and the case is being pursued in court.
To order copies of the training materials, contact Marg at email@example.com.
Source: Rani. 2011. Legal Awareness: Why It Is a Necessity.
For example, see the film Raising Women’s Legal Awareness Through Film- Tsunami (International Development Law Organization, 2007)
India – Legal Awareness through VIDEO SEWA
The organization SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association) in India has implemented a grass-roots programme in which community members make videos on legal, economic, or social concerns which affect them personally. A number of their members are non-literate or low-literate. The process of framing the issue, filming the participants, and showing the film publicly serves as a valuable training tool and promotes legal reform. SEWA programmes also use videos to educate women on the court process. For example, a group of women who make cigarettes had to testify in court. To prepare them for hostile questioning by opposing attorneys, SEWA videotaped a mock court proceeding as a teaching tool, which greatly increased the women’s confidence.
SEWA’s standards in determining whether to use videos:
1. Set goals for using video as a tool in your organization.
2. Assess these goals. Critically and honestly analyze whether video is the best medium to achieve these goals. It is very easy to be dazzled by the technology and forget the difficulties.
3. Does your organization need videotape or a video unit to achieve these goals?
4. Does your organization have the human and financial resources to introduce video? To start a video unit anticipate the following:
- funding needs for equipment, training, and follow-up and operational activities
- equipment needs
- training needs
- time for skills to cement
- keep expectations within reach
5. To plan a video unit carefully think about the questions below:
- Who needs the tools and why?
- Who will use the video and how?
- How will video meet the organization's needs?
- Who will learn video? (This is very important for long term
- Who will provide training?
- Who can be resources/problem solvers?
- What equipment will be needed?
- How will maintenance and repairs be achieved/financed?
- Who will coordinate video activities?
6. Can the organization sustain video over time?
7. Does the organization have the necessary resources to meet the demands video will create?
8. How will video be evaluated? When? By whom?
For descriptions of video projects by SEWA on issues of violence against women see Sharing Her Story and Taking a Stand. Through Our Eyes is a video workshop project which uses local actors and languages to address issues of gender-based violence response and prevention, including legal aid, counseling, and medical services for survivors of conflict-related countries. The initiative is sponsored by American Refugee Committee and Communication 4 Change. To see a video of the first workshop, click here.
Armenia – TV Show Increases Legal Literacy
In Armenia, surveys revealed that the population not only distrusted the judiciary but also knew very little about their legal rights. In 2003, the World Bank and the Ministry of Justice launched a television show called “My Right” with the aim of increasing legal knowledge. The show was hosted by the Deputy Minister of Justice, featuring a mock trial based on real court cases. Judges, attorneys, law students, and other experts discuss legal matters covering a wide range of topics, including property law, family law and other areas. In 2005, two attorneys from the Women’s Rights Center of Armenia appeared on the show. “My Right” has become extremely popular throughout the country, and there is anecdotal evidence that citizens are more interested in legal matters, have voiced an increased demand for legal services, and are using knowledge gained on the show to protect their rights. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that the show has increased public trust in the judiciary. Source: World Bank. 2005. Court TV for Armenia.
Programmers should consider the special circumstances and greater barriers to justice experienced by girls and incorporate this knowledge into legal awareness programming. Challenges faced by girl victims of violence may include:
Strategies to address the need for legal awareness of girl victims of violence include:
Tools for Promoting Legal Awareness:
Practical Guide and Methods to Advance Women's Legal Rights (The Women’s Legal Rights Initiative, 2007). English.
Addressing Gender-Based Violence Through Community Empowerment (Legal Assistance Centre, Namibia, 2008). Provides information on gender-based violence, discussion questions for community meetings, suggestions for group actions, and a summary of important points and laws for community use, in a user-friendly manual with examples specific to Namibian context but which are adaptable for use in many countries. English.
Pocket Guide: The Combating of Domestic Violence Act (Legal Assistance Centre, Namibia, 2008). English.
Pocket Guide: The Combating of Rape Act (Legal Assistance Centre, Namibia, 2008). English.
Handbook for Civil Society Partners: Community Education and Awareness Program on the Rule of Law (Ministry of Justice, Liberia, and the Carter Center, 2008). English.
A Guide on Domestic Violence (The Cradle-The Children’s Foundation, Kenya, 2004). Information on myths and realities of domestic violence and basic legal information for victims. English.
A Guide on Female Genital Mutilation (The Cradle-The Children’s Foundation, Kenya, 2004). Information on myths and realities of female genital mutilation and basic legal information. English.
Child Sex Abuse (The Cradle- The Children’s Foundation, Kenya, 2006). Information on myths and prevalence of child sexual abuse and on what to do if child sex abuse is suspected. English.
A Standard Survey Instrument on Legal Awareness, Appendix IV,p. 95, Legal Empowerment for Women and Disadvantaged Groups (The Asia Group, 2009). The survey is on shelter, water, and health but is easily adaptable to violence against women and girls. English.
Tools on Media Training:
Training Manual for Gender Sensitization of Media on Violence against Women (Participatory Development Initiatives, Pakistan). A detailed tool for workshop presenters that provides objectives, preparatory work, interactive group activities, handouts, discussion points, and more. English
How to Report Culture, Religion and Gender, a Training Manual for the Media (Inter Press Service, South Africa, 2002). English.
Gender, HIV and Rights: A Training Manual for the Media (Inter Press Service International Association, Italy, 2003). English.
Tools for women with disabilities:
Women, Disability and Violence: Strategies to Increase Physical and Programmatic Access to Victims’ Services for Women with Disabilities (McClain, 2011). Available in English.
SafePlace, Responding to Violent Crimes Against Persons with Disabilities: A Manual for Law Enforcement, Prosecutors, Judges, and Court Personnel Provides a toolkit to help criminal justice system professionals, attorneys, judges, and law enforcement officers more effectively respond to, investigate, and prosecute crimes against people with disabilities. Provides information about disabilities and disability etiquette; the dynamics of domestic violence, sexual assault, and caregiver abuse against people with disabilities; comprehensive safety planning for crime victims with disabilities; and strategies for taking a proactive approach to providing accessible services to crime victims with disabilities. Available in English and Spanish.
Braille Brochure on Family Protection Law in Jordan, for Women with Visual Impairments. Outlines the provisions of the Family Protection Law in Braille. The brochure was drafted by several legal experts and was presented as part of a workshop for visually impaired people. For more information, contact Karama.
Violence against Women and Girls: Your Questions, Our Answers (Gender & Development Network, 2010). A brief yet effective synopsis of violence and its effects upon victims. English.