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Family Legal Clinic picks up campaign to provide free legal help

Fathmath Shaahunaz
13 March 2018, MVT 13:24
A promotional image for Family Legal Clinic's pro bono services. IMAGE/FLC
Fathmath Shaahunaz
13 March 2018, MVT 13:24

Local NGO Family Legal Clinic (FLC) on Monday again launched its crowdfunding campaign to provide free legal advice for people struggling with family-related and domestic violence issues.

The pro bono service had initially kicked off the special fundraising program at the beginning of February but had taken a brief hiatus to focus on awareness activities. FLC recommenced the crowdfunding campaign on March 12, announcing that it will continue until April 15.

In a press release, FLC stated that the campaign seeks donations from the public and corporations in a bid to provide free, equal opportunities, rights and justice for women, children and men facing domestic issues.

Donations can be made at FLC’s GoFundMe page, or by transferring funds to its bank account: 1602005986 under the name Family Legal Clinic at the Commercial Bank of Maldives.

“Over the course of our careers, my colleagues and I have heard countless heartbreaking stories of families suffering from lack of legal help,” Hawwa Shafeea Riza, the co-founder of FLC, had said.

“At Family Legal Clinic, we strongly believe that access to legal help shouldn’t be a privilege afforded by a few. This crowdfunding effort is to encourage everyone to pass on some of their good fortune to those in dire need of it, ourselves included.”

Shedding light on the situation of the Maldives, FLC highlighted that one in three Maldivian women between the ages of 15 and 49, out of the total population of nearly 400,000, have reported physical or sexual violence. Noting that most Maldivians, especially women, low-income workers, disabled persons and the elderly, cannot afford legal representatives, FLC further stated that two-thirds of the population do not have access to legal help as 99 percent of lawyers reside in capital Male.

Thus the NGO appealed for everyone to contribute to the campaign and support its cause to provide "legal support that should always be a ‘right’ and not simply a ‘privilege’.”

FLC’s work is endorsed by the NGO Hope for Women, gender ministry, environment ministry and telecom giant Ooredoo Maldives. FLC added that the renowned audit firm, Prudent Chartered Accounting, will publicly audit its crowdfunding campaign to ensure full transparency.

The NGO was founded in 2014 in collaboration with Hope for Women to provide pro bono legal consultations in the areas of the Family Act and Domestic Violence Prevention Act. It was registered as an independent NGO in 2017 and currently has 17 specially trained lawyers.

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