This week, Plan International USA’s Protecting Human Rights (PHR) project in Bangladesh, through ongoing support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), completed a series of paralegal training courses to empower social workers with basic legal literacy, so they may better assist survivors of domestic violence and fight child marriage at the community level.
The courses reached 136 social workers in the six districts of Sylhet, Chittagong, essore, Barguna, Dinajpur, and Bogra. Throughout the PHR program, social workers have been the first responders to the urgent needs of domestic violence survivors, providing immediate psychosocial support and referrals to shelter, medical services, police, and qualified lawyers. With these new paralegal skills, social workers will now be better able to monitor informal justice processes known as salish. They will also be able to discuss the Muslim and Hindu Family laws with women and married couples, as well as laws specifically designed to protect women and children, such as the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, the Child Marriage Restraint Act, the Dowry Prevention Act, and others.
PHR’s qualified lawyers will continue to be used for referrals and as sources of support. Paralegal skills are crucial to sustainability of the progress made by PHR over the years, because social workers will remain as resources for local communities and local NGOs.