Strengthening District Bar Association and Setting up Facilitation Kiosks in Courts (Sargodha)

Gender Equality Program (GEP)
Project Brief

GEP has carefully designed to address few of the existing impediments to women’s access to justice in Pakistan. It is reported that it is not only the laws but also the systems and related procedures/processes are heavily invested in patriarchal values, which generally also dictate the larger moral order of the Pakistani society and a woman has to follow these processes back & forth in her quest for justice.

Women in Pakistan face high levels of crime; often of a particularly violent nature; they suffer violence in several forms. Women are vulnerable both in public space and at home. The lack of any gender dis-aggregation in crime reporting and the general lack of official crime data, are disappointing and hamper the approach of any clear governmental approach.

Levels of legal literacy are impossible to gauge. Despite efforts made, the impact is not visible and thus cannot be measured and previous measures taken in this direction do not appear to have made any significant change, furthermore, female representation amongst the judiciary is also disturbingly low. Whilst little data exists in relation to the subordinate judiciary, who make up the vast majority of judges, representation at senior levels is pitiful. Equally low levels of female participation within legal profession also reveal a significant disconnect between women and the services for justice provided by the state.

The District Bar Association (DBA) Sargodha is very active with the support of many renounced male and female lawyers. However, the access to justice system in Pakistan including District Sargodha is in a state of disarray owing to the issues of poverty, social injustice, illiteracy and economic growth. Therefore provision of access to justice is an ongoing struggle and requires more attention and deliberate efforts at all levels.

DBA Sargodha comprises of 2,150 members with 1,948 male and 202 female registered lawyers. Based on a recent FGD conducted with the DBA Sargodha it was highlighted that there is a lack of basic necessary services /facilities to address the women victims in DBA. Moreover Lawyers were not familiar about the term gender, GBV issues and commitment of the GOP related to VAW and moreover they have not received any training from the last 8 years. The District court lacks facilities for the women litigants having no separate waiting areas, functional washroom for women and no facilities of clean drinking water. If there is any facility available, the condition of that facility makes it un-functional. Lack of these facilities is one the major reasons that women visiting courts seeking justice are hesitant to file cases. Moreover, there is no facilitation kiosk within court premises for women frequenting court seeking justice where they can get guidance and can be routed to the correct concerned person. There is strong need to improve women’s access to justice by capacitating and strengthening the role of District Bar Association.

GEP’s eleventh grant cycle is in support of GEP’s objective one: enhancing gender equity by expanding women’s access to justice and women’s human rights across Pakistan. 9 Sub-grants are being awarded to improve women’s access to justice by capacitating and strengthening the role of District Bar Associations in GEP select districts. It is envisioned to accomplish protecting women’s legal rights, encouraging pro-bono services to women litigants, and facilitation of information dissemination hubs for women seeking legal assistance through these set of sub grants. In addition to the 9 district sub grants.

Under these sub-grants the two main programming areas are:

  • Strengthening and gender sensitization of District Bar Associations
  • Setting up of facilitation kiosks in courts.