Legal awareness and legal literacy lie at the base of any effort toward legal empowerment. Critical knowledge of legal provisions and processes, coupled with the skills to use this knowledge to realize rights and entitlements will empower people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies at all levels. MARG produces a wide range of legal literacy materials, conducts legal awareness workshops for activists and the community, and also trains state functionaries on legal provisions and procedure.

MARG’s thrust has been to create awareness materials which cater to a wide range of persons in terms of literacy levels; content and capacity of understanding and ability of using the information. Our legal literacy work rests on twin principles of simplification of laws along with developing the empathy for the subject. This has been a straightforward formula that has empowered thousands of women, children, men, young students in rural and urban India to internalize law and use it in their everyday lives.

MARG’s legal Literacy programme reaches out to various Stakeholders by using both written and audio-video methods. The interactive Trainings and Workshops are designed to meet the needs of various groups.

TRAINING OF COMMUNITY JUSTICE WORKERS (CJWs) IN BIHAR AND UTTAR PRADESH

With support from UNDP India, MARG continued with its training of community justice workers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Around 50 justice workers in Bihar and another 50 in Uttar Pradesh have been trained to function as legal resources within their communities. Their training was held for a total of 16 days, with 4 – day session spread over 4 quarters. Along with the training about the laws, exposure visits were carried out so that participants good get a better grasp of the functioning of various state agencies and departments. This process facilitates further collaboration between government officials and CJW at the local level. In addition, visits to district courts and Legal Services Authorities where the project team accompany the participants was organised. This dual approach is crucial as depending on the nature of a problem, a solution can be found either at the local level (block, village) or at the district level.

These justice workers have in turn held legal awareness programmes using legal literacy tools (films, publications) provided by MARG. Nearly 40,000 people were reached in community awareness programmes.

A comprehensive and easy-to-read legal resource compendium has being developed to enable CJWs, NGO activists and in fact all literate members of the public to understand basic rights with special reference to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. 2 handbooks are also being developed containing details on the various Central and State Government schemes for marginalised sections. These will make it easy for CJWs, grassroots workers and literate members of the public to access their entitlements.

MISCELLANEOUS TRAININGS DONE

MARG also conducted legal awareness programmes for NIPCCD, Jawaharlal Nehru Leadership Institute, AASTHA, Arpana Trust, Naz Foundation (India) Trust, Muneer Social Welfare Society and Chetnalaya.

MARG also conducted intensive 3 day training on Child rights & the Law for CARE India partners such as Alamb Trust, The Baliga Trust, Navshrishti.

Workshop in collaboration with the Orissa and Jharkhand State Legal Services Authorities

MARG organized a 2 day workshop in association with the Orissa State Legal Services Authority in Cuttack, Orissa, on the 13th and 14th of February 2011 on the topic ‘Violence Against Women’.  Approximately 100 participants (lawyers, judicial officers, NGO activists, police, protection officers) attended the sessions. The main focus of this workshop was to update the participants on specific aspects of laws related to violence against women (domestic violence, rape, etc).  Various provisions of law and landmark cases were discussed. Throughout the interactive sessions it was generally acknowledged that gender sensitization and attitudinal changes are critical in effectively countering gender based violence.

From L-R: Anju Talukdar (Executive Director, MARG), Justice B.P Das (Judge, Orissa High Court and Chairman OSLSA), Justice A. K. Patnaik (Judge, Supreme Court of India), Justice Altamas Kabir (Judge, Supreme Court of India and Chairman, National Legal Services Authority), Justice V. G. Gowda (Chief Justice, Orissa High Court), Mr. Gopal Subramanium (Solicitor General of India)

A similar workshop was organized in Ranchi, Jharkhand, on the 12th and 13th of March 2011 in association with the Jharkhand State Legal Services Authority. Around 135 lawyers, judicial officers, NGO activists and protection officers attended the workshop.  Both the social and legal aspects of violence against women were discussed in various sessions.

A third workshop on this issue was organized on 27th March 2011 in collaboration with Human Rights Law Network and the J. B. Law College in Guwahati, Assam.  There were 177 participants (lawyers, law teachers, law students, members of the Assam State Commission for Women, members of Assam State Legal Services Authority, NGO activists, etc).

All three workshops were organized with support from Oxfam India.

MARG organizes legal awareness programmes for NGOs, communities, students, Government functionaries etc. all over the country. We have well developed training modules on a wide range of laws and issues and a considerable volume of films and literature to make the process of understanding the law easy and enjoyable.