More legal aid and local centres needed says ZWLA

Expanding legal aid and setting up offices in rural and urban centres would improve access to the country’s justice system and ensure more women could use the power of the law, says Sara Moyo of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers’ Association.

In an exclusive interview with The Zimbabwean, Moyo said it was the duty of government to implement its constitutional obligation: that of providing legal aid to citizens, especially women and girls.

Moyo, who chairs the ZWLA board, believes providing support to survivors of gender-based violence, including health services, legal support and emotional and psychological counseling, promotes women’s use of the justice system to pursue civil redress.

“Women fail to enforce their legal rights and cannot access legal services because of ignorance of the law. Others fail to access the justice delivery system because of poverty.

She said although government, through the High Court and the Magistrates Court, ran a legal aid service, women either didn’t know about the service or found it difficult to access.

ZWLA trains peer educators and equips them with legal expertise so they can provide basic legal information to their communities in the absence of lawyers.

“We provide legal training for groups of women facing similar legal issues so that they are better positioned to represent themselves in magistrate court level proceedings,” said Moyo.

“We work with other organisations such as the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe. ZWLA played a pivotal role in the legal and constitutional reform cluster in WCoZ, which advocated for the constitution provisions that safeguard the rights of women and children and recognise the equality of the sexes.

We have been instrumental in the passage of the Administration of Estates Amendment Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the new constitution.

“We are currently undertaking a review of the marriage laws in Zimbabwe and the impact of the different marriage types on the human rights of women and children. We are working with the Ministry of Justice on draft legislation for the establishment of specialist Family Law Courts,” she added.

ZWLA works to expand the number of lawyers who provide legal assistance to poor women by recruiting more volunteers, including male lawyers, student lawyers and retirees.

Post published in: News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *