Flourishing Legal and Human Rights Education
Human Rights and Legal Education (HRLE) course
Without the basic knowledge of state laws and the legal system, women in particular cannot protect themselves or others in their communities from injustice. For many, the HRLE course is primary exposure to the concept of legal and human rights. Our efforts to educate women in all corners of the country provide the critical behavioural change required in opposing discrimination, intolerance, and all forms of abuse. The course covers laws related to dowry, dower, marriage, child marriage, divorce, land, inheritance, etc.
The HRLE course is held for about an hour a day for 22 days. The curriculum for the HRLE class has been updated and shortened to a 12-day course. It is presently being implemented with a paradigm shift from legal literacy to one of rights articulation. The HRLE module aims to improve understanding of the judicial system and will ultimately influence mass awareness. As of September 2012, HRLS has conducted 162,516 HRLE classes, reaching over 3.7 million poor women.
Odhikar Bastobaiyon Committees (OBCs)
Following the HRLE course, three graduates are chosen from each class to form an Odhikar Bastobaiyon Committees (OBC). By acting as observers in the community, these representatives help in conflict mediation and ensure access to legal resources. The OBC further raises awareness about legal rights and seeks to inform village courts of existing laws.
Shebikas (known in English as volunteers) or ‘Barefoot Lawyers’ impart legal literacy to women across multiple villages by teaching the HRLE course. Shebikas establish social networks within the community; they function as crucial leaders and access points making it easier for them to make legal referrals by supporting and rescuing survivors of human rights violations. Hence, the barefoot lawyers ensure sustainable legal representation. Their empowering work earns them respect within the community. With increased points of contact via the shebikas, rural women can stay connected to the legal system and move one step forward to pursuing formal and informal legal services on their own accord.
Odhikar Shebis are trained community leaders who work on a broad scale to deflate the legal process and make it easier for clients to attain justice. These cadres of shebis primarily assist clients in affirming birth, death, marriage, and divorce registration and are also trained in land measurement with theoretical know-how on land surveying. Therefore, this knowledge equips them with a source of income and the insight to help poor and underprivileged people in land related conflicts.