Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.
Title: Enhancing Access to Justice for Women with Disability through Pro Bono Services and Clinical Legal Education
Lead Presenter: Yusuf, Rizwana
Session Abstract: Enhancing Access to Justice for Women with Disability through Pro Bono Services and Clinical Legal Education Across the world, women with disability are often subject to discrimination and hence marginalized by society. And this happens despite their rights being ensured under the country’s Constitution as well as existence of Laws to safeguard the rights of women. Regardless of income levels, be they poor or rich, women in all income strata have been found to be victims of harassment, domestic violence and other incidences of rights infringements. The conditions of disabled women are even worst. Primary reasons for this agonizing scenario are lack of knowledge and awareness on the part of the victims and their near ones. Such a situation can be improved through pro bono services such as legal awareness sessions. Such sessions may be taken by trained advocates who are not only knowledgeable concerning relevant laws and regulations, but also possess the ability to interact effectively on a personal and professional level with disabled women. Such services can be further strengthened through clinical legal education whereby law students can support experienced legal professionals towards administering first-level legal support such as strategic consultancy services and technical assistance. Disabled women in South Asia are often subject to lifelong stigma and painful discrimination. When such women fall prey to domestic violence, the damage can be very difficult to overcome. For such victims, in addition to first level legal support, it is equally important to provide them counselling to get back the confidence and belief in their abilities. Moreover, disabled women often find it difficult get office jobs and for many entrepreneurship may be viable options. Hence in addition to legal support, it is equally important to adopt a holistic view of the victim’s situation and help her rehabilitation, recovery and subsequent economic independence. Almost one-tenth of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability making disabled persons an integral part of humanity and all that it implies. Hence dignity and justice which is fundamental to human rights applies for all, irrespective of physical or mental deficiencies. Over population, poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness, social stigma, economic marginalization, and inadequate medical care and related services determines the overwhelming prevalence of disability in South Asia. It is important to provide specialized support for women with disabilities as their situation may be quite different from issues faced by women in general. Through this panel discussion, we wish to deliberate on rights issues faced by disabled women and enhancing their access to justice through pro bono services and clinical legal education. The panel will also discuss the economic empowerment opportunities for women with disability thereby ensuring justice is not just achieved but also sustained. We would like to propose some recommendations to improve the situation for disabled women. Persons with disability will only get the requisite social justice and resulting dignity when they are able to exercise their rights as people and citizens.
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