Trauma-sensitive legal assistance
On paper at least, women and men have equal rights in most countries. But in reality, it is often very different. In countries such as Kosovo, Albania or Afghanistan, women suffer huge disadvantages and their rights and needs are often violently suppressed.
medica mondiale is fundamentally committed to statutory equality for women and girls. Our projects include provision of female lawyers to assist women and campaign for women’s rights in court and at public authorities.
Informing women about their rights
Informing women about their rights in a specific case is part of counselling work. It is important to raise the women’s awareness of the injustice they have suffered: to explain that it is not they who are to blame for the violence they experience – as many a tradition or religious custom leads them to believe – and that rape is a serious violation of human rights. For only if women know their rights can they protect themselves in future; it is only in this way that the legal situation of women can be improved in the long run. Defending themselves, enforcing their rights by legal action and seeing the perpetrators be punished are furthermore important steps to overcome the traumas they suffered.
Trauma training for legal counsellors
Special skills are required when providing legal counselling to women who experienced sexualised violence in war or in crisis zones: successful counselling depends on the lawyer’s ability to gain their client’s trust by putting them at ease and allaying their fears. Otherwise, shame and fear of the family’s reaction – especially in cases of domestic violence – make it difficult to deal publicly with these cases of violence. So local lawyers are trained in dealing with traumatised women and helped to take an initial critical look at the social structures and traditions in their country. They also need to review their personal ideas of justice and injustice before being in a position to support the women effectively. To that end, they receive further training on the topic of sexualised violence against women and human rights violations and also on gender-specific legislation in their country.
See also awareness raising for police and legal professionals
An important part of providing legal assistance is the documentation of sexualised violence against women. Case reports, police protocols and witness statements serve as crucial evidence in court.
See also “Stress- and Trauma-sensitive Approach (STA)"