Introduction LACC

"Protecting and promoting the dignity, well-being and rights of women and children in Nepal"

The Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre (LACC) is a non-governmental organization (NGO). It is a pioneer in the promotion,of women’s access to justice. 

LACC was founded in 1987 by Dr Shanta Thapalia with support from a group of female lawyers, attorneys and law teachers. Advocate Sadhana Shrestha is the organization's current president.

LACC strives to protect and promote the dignity, well-being and rights of women and children in Nepal. It is dedicated to uplifting the social, legal, economic and cultural status of women and children, defending their interests and eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against them.

LACC's approach to combating injustice is comprehensive and interconnected.  Provision of free legal aid is LACC’s core service and an example of micro-level activism. This service includes telephone counseling, initial psycho-social counseling, mediation, legal advice, paralegal services and case representation. Court fees are covered for clients in need.

At the meso-level, LACC organizes gender sensitization of judicial bodies and training to ensure the correct implementation of legislation concerning women’s rights. LACC hosts media programs that educate women about their rights and discusses important topics like human trafficking and gender-based violence.

Furthermore, programs are developed and implemented to promote the rights of women and children from particularly vulnerable groups including those who are disabled, dalits, indigenous/janjaati, madhesi and people from geographically remote areas.

At the macro-level LACC lobbies government and policy bodies to amend legislation that discriminates against women or children.

LACC believes that this tiered approach will lead to a more just and equitable society in which Nepali women and children can enjoy their natural rights and freedom.

The organization emphasizes and explores the link between the law and an individual’s life, their family and its impact on society as a whole. LACC recognizes the law’s ability to empower women and children, encourage social change and promote equality.

LACC’s former president Associate Professor Shashi Adhikary was awarded the N-Peace Award 2013 for her leadership and commitment to the promotion of women’s and children’s rights.



Vision


LACC’s Goal: End all forms of violence against women and children.

LACC’s long term Vision: 

A just, equitable and democratic Nepal in which all people are able to exercise their human rights, enjoy their fundamental freedoms and participate equally in the development process.



LACC’s Mission: 

LACC is committed to establishing and upholding the rule of law and will empower and promote the rights of women and children through education, advocacy and legal aid.


LACC’s Guiding Principles

1.      Rights-based Approach
The protection of human rights, particularly the rights of women and children, are the focus of LACC’s programs and activities.
 

2.     Equitable Society
Programs and activities are directed at creating an equitable society by addressing gender, ethnicity, caste and religion based discrimination.
 

3.     Protecting and Promoting the Rights of Particular Groups
Programs are developed and implemented to promote the rights of women and children from particularly vulnerable groups including those who are disabled, dalits, indigenous/janjaati, madhesi and people from geographically remote areas.
 

4.     Reduce Domestic Violence
The rights of women and children in Nepal are frequently and grievously violated through domestic violence. LACC strives to reduce domestic violence through advocacy, lobbying, rights education and by training law implementers to correctly apply the Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act 2008.
 

5.     Transparency and Accountability
LACC’s policies, programs and budget are transparent and readily available to stakeholders. These stakeholders hold LACC accountable for its actions and decisions.
 

6.     Non-partisanism
Programs are developed and implemented for the benefit of clients and to achieve LACC’s goals, vision and mission. They are not influenced by or aligned with any political party.
 

7.     Mitigating Impunity
LACC strives to mitigate impunity and achieve justice for clients by offering legal aid and conducting campaigns that promote the rights of women and children.
 

8.     Promoting a culture of peace
LACC strongly believes that women and children are instrumental to promoting a culture of peace. This perspective colors the way LACC implements programs concerning the reintegration of conflict affected women and children.


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Working Strategy

LACC's approach to combating injustice is comprehensive and includes activism at the micro, meso and macro level.

It was at the forefront of the women’s property rights movement of the 1990’s which resulted in the eleventh amendment to the Muluki Ain (Civil Code) in 2002. The amendment significantly improved the legal position of women with respect to property, inheritance and adoption rights and increased the minimum age at which couples could legally marry.

LACC is heavily involved in the implementation of the Domestic Violence (Crime and Punishment) Act 2008. It conducts capacity building sessions with law implementers and educates the public about the effects of the Act.


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LACC Focus Groups

LACC has a range of focus groups for whom services are provided. These include:

  1. Women and children who are victims of gender based violence or deprived of fundamental rights.

  2. Key stakeholders such as Women Cell police officers and representatives of women’s rights groups.

  3. Lawyers and law students through the provision of legal training.


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Important Achievements

LACC has:

  • Provided legal aid to more than 12,000 women and 1,300 children in its five working district's over the past 10 years.
  • Been at the forefront of the battle for women’s reproductive and property rights leading to the enactment of protective legislation.
  • Advised the government on legislation relating to reproductive rights, property rights and domestic violence.
  • Provided legal training to over 500 women and helped them to start careers as lawyers or counselors.
  • Implemented a system to address problems at a grassroots level through its five district offices and 12 Women Empowerment Committees.
  • Aired many radio programs, jingles and television segments on the rights of women and children. The latest project was a nationwide radio program on trafficking.   
  • Published a large number of leaflets, books and legal information kits to educate the public about the rights of women and children.
  • Awarded scholarships to children affected by domestic violence which have allowed them to pursue secondary education. 


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Overview of LACC Services

Women’s Rights

1.     Awareness/Sensitization

  • Educating the public about women’s rights
  • Publishing leaflets, books and legal material regarding women’s rights
  • Hosting media programs that discusses important topics like human trafficking and gender-based violence
  • Gender sensitization of judicial bodies 

2.     Provision of Free Legal Aid

  • Legal aid services include telephone counseling, initial psycho-social counseling, mediation, legal advice, paralegal services and court representation
  • Bar exam preparation classes for female law students

3.     Capacity Strengthening

  • Training law implementers to ensure the correct application of legislation concerning women’s rights
  • Leadership training

4.     Advocacy

  • Lobbying the government and policy bodies to enact female-friendly legislation and to amend provisions that discriminate against women

Children's Rights

1.     Awareness/Sensitization

  • Educating the public about children’s rights
  • Publishing leaflets, books and legal material regarding children’s rights
  • Hosting media programs that discusses important topics like trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour and violence against children
  • Sensitization of judicial bodies 

2.     Provision of Free Legal Aid

  • Legal aid services include telephone counseling, initial psycho-social counseling, mediation, legal advice, paralegal services and court  representation

3.     Capacity Strengthening

  • Teaching law implementers and police personnel about youth justice
  • Training law implementers to ensure the correct application of legislation concerning children’s rights

4.     Advocacy

  • Lobbying the government and policy bodies to enact child-friendly legislation and to amend provisions that discriminate against children

5.     Rescue and Support

  • LACC works with other organizations to rescue children from exploitative working conditions
  • LACC has awarded scholarships through its Trust Fund to children affected by domestic violence. These scholarships have allowed recipients to pursue secondary education


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Women’s Rights Helpline Project (WRHL)

Since it's inception in 1987 operating in five working districts with the support of various donors like DANIDA/HUGOU, ARD/USAID, SARI/Q, OSI and DED,the Helpline services provides free legal aid and counseling for justice deprived women. In addition to this, it provides financial assistance for court proceeding as well. It further provides court representative service if required.

Listeners Clubs :( This we can insert in Feedback box)
To know the impact of the Radio programs, we established listeners clubs all over Nepal The club helps us to evaluate the radio program by receiving feedbacks from listeners. Presently we have five listeners Clubs in Makwanpur, Sinduli, Taplejung and two in Lalitpur.To encourage active and wide participation we held competitions such as best article/letter/poem of the month and best interview by giving these clubs a price of minimal amount and we gift them LACC publications.


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Listeners Voices:


Keshab Hari Thapa:

I am a regular listener. The program is successful because it is informative, effective and provides public awareness. Wakalat has enhanced Radio Nepal’s standard. There is no doubt that it playes a vital role in reducing women is trafficking, rehabilitation of victims and the coordination amongst people engaged in this field.

Laxmi Khatiwada: (Nawa Jagaran yuwa wakalat radio listeners club, Taplejung) I loved Wakalat from the beginning. I never miss it. We believe it is effective, trust worthy, and spreads awareness about women’s trafficking, especially in the remote areas where mostly uneducated people live. We are thankful to LACC for producing such an impressive and significant program.


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LACC Boards & Organizational Structure

Executive Board: LACC has an Executive Board which formulates policies and programs for the organization and supervises the management’s overall actions. According to LACC’s constitution, the Executive Board should have seven to nine members and is represented by the President, the Vice-President, Secretary General, Treasurer, and Members. LACC’s Executive Director, Deputy Director and other staff are appointed by the Executive Board and are responsible for the overall management and representation of the organization.

Advisory Committee: The Advisory Committee consists of respected personalities from diverse professional background who make suggestions to the Executive Director on the basis of their expertise. The members of the Advisory Committee are appointed by the Executive Board.

General Assembly: LACC’s general assembly meets every year to select the auditor and receive the administrative and activity report. It uses a democratic system in which two-thirds majority leads in making decisions that affect the organization and its policies in the future. The Executive Board is elected by the general assembly of LACC’s members by consent every four years.


Organizational Structure of Lacc


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Kathmandu/Lalitpur (Main Office)

The Main Office is located in Manbahwan, South of Kathmandu, in the District of Lalitpur. The office was first established in 1987 and LACC is fortunate to have its own office building next to the well known AVM School.

Currently 6 full time female lawyers offer their legal services, one of them also functions as the publication officer. The management team is made up of three staff members; the Director, the Program Officer, the Legal Advisor along with President. The office further employs four administrational staff members.

The LACC Main Office caters to the wide areas of Lalitpur, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur Districts, which have the highest population density and population growth rates and leads to the high demand of legal services for women.

Most donor and LACC funded programs are acquired and designed by the management team in the main office as well as advocacy and lobby campaigns; which target the law making bodies in the capital and the creation of Media Campaigns and Publications.


Chairperson
Sadhana Shrestha


Deputy Director
Nita Dhungana


Program Coordinator/Advocate
Anita Thapaliya


Advocate
Chandesowari Tandukar


Advocate
Punyashila Dawadi


Advocate
Sakuntala Basnet


Advocate
Anjana Neupane


Finance Officer
Sita Basyal


Finance officer
Sagun Satyal


Program Coordinator/Advocate
Manisha Poudel


Office Assistant
Nawaraj Thapalia


Librarian
Babita Tandukar


Messanger
Harimaya Magar


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Kanchanpur

LACC’s district office in Kanchanpur was established in 2006 and is staffed with one female and one male lawyer. The district is situated in Far Western Region and contains 19 VDCs. The women’s literacy rate over there is 46.9% which is below the national average. In the rural areas of the district the level of women’s education is much lower. As all districts of the Far Western region is subject to very traditional gender views and drastically affected by gender based violence, e.g. the practice of “chaupadi” is widespread. According to this tradition, menstruating women or those who have just delivered, need to stay outside in a cowshed in isolation from other family members and are not allowed to touch or share food with others. In its awareness raising programs, the local LACC sensitizes about the harmfulness of chaupadi.

LACC’s services are much appreciated in the region and strongly help to decrease the high under-reporting of gender based violence cases. In the year 2009 the office received as many as 232 client cases.


Advocate
Udav Raj Bhatta


Advocate
Poonam Chand



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Surkhet

LACC’s district office in Surkhet was established in 2003 and is also staffed with a team of two dedicated lawyers (one female lawyer, one male lawyer).

The district is situated in Mid-West Region and counts 51 VDCs. As the district has a comparable high number of dalit population, many women are affected by combined caste and gender discrimination. In terms of per capita income Surkhet ranks 44 out of 75 districts. Therefore many women are suffering from poverty and scarcity of resources. In Surkhet the demand for legal aid and awareness programmes is extremely high.

In 2009 as many as 303 clients received legal services. Domestic violence relates to the vast majority of received cases. To challenge the estimated high rate of unreported cases, the team emphasises on community level awareness programs. Joint activities are carried out in cooperation with the local chapter of WHR (Women for Human Rights) and other local NGOs.


Advocate
Kaushila Yogi


Advocate
Krishna Bahadur


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Dhanusha

LACC’s district office in Dhanusa was established in 2006 and is staffed with a team of two dedicated women lawyers. The district is situated in the Central Development Region in East Tarai and counts 101 VDCs in partly very remote areas. The particular set-up of the female population in the district creates a strong need for free legal service and legal empowerment interventions. Out of the 75 districts of Nepal, Dhanusa ranks 42 as regards its Human Development Index.

The situation of women is characterized by a low female literary rate of 36.1 % (national average 48.3 %) and a very high degree of gender discriminating practices. Excessive dowry practices, witch hunting, polygamy, child marriages, domestic violence and trafficking in women and girls occur in high numbers. Due to closed family structures and strong adherence to traditional patriarchal gender relations, gender based violence is highly tolerated and massively underreported. In Dhanusa LACC is active member of the local network “District Women’s Rights Concern Centre” which is a network of around 40 organizations that strives for the local implementation of women’s rights through networking with GOs and NGOs, putting pressure on case investigation and spreading awareness.


Advocate
Kiran Sha


Advocate
Bal Krishna Karki


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Jhapa

LACC’s district office in Jhapa was established in 2000 and is staffed with two female lawyers. LACC is the only legal aid provider in the district.

The district is situated in the Eastern Region and counts 47 VDCs. Although the district has a comparable high female literacy rate of 58.7 % and ranks 18 out of 75 districts in terms of its Human Development Index, gender based violence is still a wide-spread phenomenon.

In Jhapa LACC is engaged in the “Campaign against domestic violence - Eastern Regional Network” which consists of the organizations SOLVE Dhankuta, HURF Ilam and MJK Kakarbhitta. In the future LACC Jhapa will closely cooperate with MJK Kakarbhitta in the organization of legal and social awareness programs in the district. Moreover, the office collects data on the local implementation of women’s rights as focal point of the Monitoring Network on Women’s Rights of the National Women’s Commission.


Advocate
Dipendra Bhattarai


Advocate
Uma Karki


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Banke

LACC has extended its work to Banke district. There are advocates appointed who can intervene in the issues of women and children in.


Advocate/District Coordinator
Devi Maya Khatri


Advocate
Sunita Sharma


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Kaski

LACC has extended its work to Kaski district. There are advocates appointed who can intervene in the issues of women and children in.


Advocate
Sobha Devi Poudel


Advocate
Sarita Thapa


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Committees under LACC.

The following committees and centers have been developed to address particular needs:

Women Empowerment Committees

Women Empowerment Committee’s (WEC) aim to empower women at a local level by educating them about their rights, directing them to support services in cases of gender-based violence and identifying those who are most in need of legal aid. WEC’s are established in 11 districts. District specific training is provided to WEC members. LACC publications are provided to members and disseminated in villages.

Mediation Committees

Mediation Committees (MC) aim to resolve disputes regarding gender-based violence through mediation. MC’s were established in 2005 and have been highly successful. Committees operate in seven districts.

Children Justice Center

Nepal falls well short of its national and international obligations regarding the protection and advancement of children’s rights. Children continue to be exploited, sexually abused and subjected to acts of violence.

The Children Justice Center (CJC) was established in November 1998 in line with LACC’s commitment to increasing the ease in which justice is accessed. The CJC aims to secure justice for children by providing free legal aid, counseling, and court representation to young victims. It works alongside other organizations to rescue children from forced labour. The CJC operates in eight districts.

 


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Maps

LACC Helpline Service





LACC Women's Empowerment Committee