Message from Secretary
Our mission is to establish a society based on equal rights. Access to justice for all is the corner stone. At the outset our primary approach was free legal representation of our clients in the formal courts of law. But we learnt that court is not a place for the poor, particularly women. Not only they are deprive of justice they seek, they eventually end up out of the frying pan to the fire.
To overcome this situation, we looked again at our own indigenous form of dispute resolution: ‘Shalish’. Shalish means ‘mediation’ though with certain modifications of the process. The cardinal principles of this process require the participation of the parties to the dispute and decision making by themselves in their best interest. The role of the mediator is to facilitate the process of mediation so that disputants are able to reach a win-win solution. The mediator should not impose any decision on the disputants.
ADR is a very effective tool for resolving petty civil, criminal and family matters. It became a ground breaking effort for us because of the fact that the grassroots population retained ownership both of the problem and its solution.
The other step we have taken to consolidate the achievement of ADR is to activate the Village Court (a quasi-judicial body to settle minor civil and criminal disputes) through proper training of the stakeholders on both Village Court procedures and mediation processes. This has provided the community with another forum for resolving local and minor disputes.
The mission is not simple. Although we have been working for over 30 years to bring about and ensure rights for the poor, especially women and children, in both the formal and informal justice sectors, our endeavor has still a long way to go.
We try our best to tell people our story: what we are and what we do.
Madaripur Legal Aid Association