Online Portal For Harassment Survivors With Free Legal Aid Launched In Pakistan

Illustration by Shehzil Malik

Lawyer, activist and the founder of DRF’s (Digital Right Foundation) Nighat Dad has initiated an online platform that will act as a liaison between victims of harassment and legal experts who will guide them the way to proper action.

”Ab Aur Nahin” is a legal directory for women seeking legal help and psychological counselling in cases related to harassment, gender-based violence domestic abuse particularly. This portal will significantly provide help to women with limited resources and no assistance.

Speaking to a local media source, Nighat said that the step has been taken keeping the number of complaints she received via Facebook. She added that after Meesha Shafi’s case, there has been an obvious surge in reporting hence a safe platform was required to assist them, providing a secure environment.

 “It’s a platform which we as DRF people including female lawyers felt we needed to start because in the last one year we saw a spike in these cases and complaints, specifically to our helpline and our Facebook pages and to me, mostly after the Meesha Shafi case I took up. There hasn’t been much information around these services. People don’t know who to reach out to. In this digital age, these initiatives need to do much more to raise awareness about themselves and what they offer. There also needs to be much more conversation around legal aid.” – she said. 

Nighat further added that Meesha’s stance encouraged a lot of women to speak. To cater to their needs and combating sexual harassment, 50 lawyers have been taken on board. She said that young lawyers have particularly shown interest in the initiative.

“We’re still defining the process for the lawyers. For now, we organically verified these lawyers who are on the portal already because we need to be careful that we don’t add lawyers who might charge later. So we’re trying to be very careful but at the same time, we are not taking responsibility because the legal system isn’t a one-off case, it’s a long process. Sometimes cases go on for years and years. so we can’t take responsibility for the lawyers. When victims and survivors work with the lawyers, we keep a check on both.” – said Nighat.

To access, all you need to do is go on the website, reach to the team via email or choose ‘Speak to a Lawyer’ to get in touch with the lawyer.

Source: DAWN

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