WACOL operates in an environment in which the disinheritance of girls and women-particularly widows – is a common and widespread form of right abuse. This practice is often perpetrated in the form of customary and traditional practice, particularly if the widow has no male child. The result is that in many cases, a woman who had worked very hard all her life could on the death of her husband be left in penury by her late husband’s family simply because she has no male children, and even if she has male children but who are too young to protect their mother. If these “handicaps” combine with illiteracy, the dangers of rights abuse get heightened. WACOL, since inception has offered legal assistance to these victims of abuse wherever and whenever that has been possible. We operate a well managed legal department for this purpose, and our capacity to offer legal aid is limited only by the availability of funds to expand and sustain this service. With the success we have recorded in several community projects, more cases are now reported to us for legal and financial aids. Through the Legal department, WACOL tries to assist women and young people through legal and financial aid and resolution of family conflicts. As part of this project, WACOL is making considerable effort to provide temporary shelter or safe haven for female victims of violence and violent abuse, particularly at the peak of crises. We hope to be able to make it operational as soon as funds are available.
A comprehensive summary/ detail of individual cases being handled may be obtained upon request from WACOL offices. Consequently, only brief mention will be made of a few representative cases presented here to illustrate the dimension and reach of this form of abuse.
FIVE (5) CASES OF RAPE PERPETRATED BY STATE AGENTS
The facts below represent the direct narratives of rape victims being provided legal aid and assistance by WACOL
3.5.9. Case No 1: O. E., 45 years old recounts her ordeal:
I am a mother of two children and was 3 months pregnant during the military attack. My children were hungry so I decided to go home to get some food. On my way home, I sighted the soldiers and immediately started to run. They ordered me to stop or they would shoot me. I knelt down and in urinated on my clothes out of fear. At this juncture, one of them ordered me to close my eyes, which I did; as I was about saying please (not knowing their intention), that same soldier slapped me and ordered me to close my mouth. The next thing I heard was “come on lie down and open your legs”. That I did without delay. One of the three men said “She de pregnant O”. Another told them that it did not matter. Thereafter they started to gang-rape me. As they were rapping me, I was in an excruciating pain because they had their whole body on me. It was a terrible experience. Instantly I experienced waist pain, which culminated into bleeding two days later, leading to the climax of my loss of the pregnancy. I was rushed to a woman who assisted in treating me with herbal medicine. The loss of the pregnancy has left an indelible sadness in me because I had been looking forward to the pregnancy for many years. I am still sick and have not been myself ever since them. Moreover, after the gang rape, I returned home only to find my matrimonial house burnt down. My family and I don’t have anything now. We had little assistance from the RED CROSS, which visited initially before WACOL came into our assistance. I don’t know those who raped me but I know they are men in army uniform and are Nigerians. Please, they should be punished and the government should pay for all that we lost.
3.6.0. Case No. 2: D.S., 40 years old, narrates her sperm swallowing and rape encounters with brutal and callous Nigerian soldiers:
Before the military invasion, we were instructed by the community leaders to run away from our town. So I took my children and few things I could take in our little canoe and left the town as instructed. But because I had my seven children with me, our food could not last for more than one week. So instead of my children dying of hunger, I decided to sneak into the town at night to collect food for my children. So as I was approaching my house, I saw four men who flashed torch on me and ordered me to stop or they would shoot me. I stopped in fear and tremble. They accused me of being an agent of the youth, which I denied. They said that they would detain me until I produced my own sons. I told them that I have come to take food from my house. They then took me to my house. Then my house was still there and everything in it was intact. They forced me to cook food for them in my house and after eating they told me that they would ‘use me’ (that is, have sexual intercourse with me). I pleaded and pleaded with them but all in vain. They brought out their guns and were ready to shoot me. One of them then told me to undress which I did crying. The first person put his penis in my mouth and after an oral sex poured his sperm in my mouth and forced me to swallow it, while the other three raped me one after the other. I wept until I could no longer be heard. They later abandoned me in my house and left. I was there for two days after which I manage to go back to my children. As a result of the rape incident, I had sore in my private part, with severe pains in my two legs and waist. I started experiencing irregular menses and my womb hurts me. I also started experiencing internal heat. I confided in my husband because I noticed I was not walking well. I received herbal treatment because we could not afford orthodox medical treatment. I found it difficult to eat whenever I remembered the penis that was penetrated into my mouth. Psychologically, I developed strong aversion for sexual relationship, even with my husband. I hated seeing his penis because of my ugly encounter with the four Nigerian soldiers. With the war over and the military recalled, I went home to find my house and all that I had gutted by fire. I need medical treatment so as to verify if they have infected me with HIV/AIDS; I also need some counseling with a view to changing my sexual attitude.
3.6.1. Case No. 3: Rape victim M.G., 73 years old, who as a result of the rape can no longer walk, coupled with her inability to speak as a result of the psychological trauma she passed through in the hands of unsympathetic and deviant Nigerian Military, has her pathetic and woeful story narrated by a third person, her 35-year old daughter. Her travails equally depict that in Nigeria, rape cuts across all ages:
When the troops came, she said I should leave her and run away since she was old and couldn’t move. According to her, there was no problem if they decided to kill her, rather than my staying with her and dying along. So I left her and ran into the bush. After 11 days, I came out and found her on the floor. I thought she was dead, but on coming closer, I discovered that she was still alive. She said she hadn’t eaten for days and was raped by two men and hence couldn’t get up to find food. I guessed the men were looking for women and since they didn’t find, they decided to do whatever they liked with the old women they saw. Her waist was paining her. Although she can now eat and sit without support, she still can’t stand on her own.
3.6.2. Case No.4: As recounted by a rape survivor – R. Z, 19 year old, who was 12years at the time of rape; a student before, but now turned to a full-time farmer to sustain eight (8) siblings and a grand mother .
On 24th April 1994, when the soldiers siege the whole Ogoniland, two soldiers banged into our household, sending my widow mother, my grandma and eight sibling frenzy. They kicked and beat and took me away to their vehicle after a little struggle with my mother and the other members of the family. They hit my mother especially with their gun and removed one of her teeth, while she fell heavily on the floor, they drove me to their camp, raped me in turns until after two (2) days. I was a virgin before the rape and the raping was the most painful incident I have ever witnessed. I was dumped outside their camp afterwards, and in an almost unconscious state, my village woman aided me back to my family hiding place. Still not recovered from the trauma of rape, I was worse hit by the sudden death of my mother who obviously died as a result of shock and tension of my captivity. Form that moment until now, I live a confused life- no medical check-up, no help from anywhere, I stopped going to school because nobody can support me. I practically became a full-fledged farmer to cater for my eight (8) younger ones and a grandmother. Among my peer, I am an object of mockery, I no longer feel free among my age mates as I am always farming to break even, but my efforts can never be enough. Please I still want to go to school to become somebody in the society.. I am appealing the Federal Government to punish these army offenders and re-orientated them to be better citizens of the Country. I also appeal to the government to pay my family all the damages of abuse of rights of life, property and human dignity.
3.6.3. Case No. 5: B. N, 21 year old recounted her terrible ordeal of defilement at the tender age of 13 years. She is now a school drop-out and has to help the widow mother to sustain the other siblings.
In April 1994, I was in my house in the night when soldiers came and broke the door and started beating me and other members of the family. While my father and others escaped, three (3) soldiers bundled me into their vehicle and took me to their camp where I was kept for 3 days. The 3 soldiers raped in turns for the 3 days. I was a virgin before the rape incident. When they dumped me outside their camp, I tried to escape without knowing they were quietly watching me. That earned me a gun shot on one of my legs. I was lying down there helpless and critically ill, when a woman from my village saw me and alerted my father. Unknown to my father, the soldiers were still watching keenly, when my father came to take me away, they shot and killed my father on the spot. That was how I became an orphan and helpless. With only a mother who is a petty business woman and many mouths to feed, I dropped out of school to help my mother at least to fend for what we can eat. I still wish to go to school so as to achieve my aim in life. I therefore appeal to the Federal government of Nigeria and other Nigerians and International Organisation to come to my rescue.
CASES AS THEY STAND IN THE YEAR 2001 -2002
Between January and December 2002, we registered 178 (one hundred and seventy eight) new cases in our legal clinic. This is in addition to some other cases brought forward from the year 2001. Some of these cases brought forward from 2001 to 2002 are pending in courts or are with the police and we follow them up. Since the drama on TV portraying the evil of violence against women and the problem of disinheritance, the numbers who visit our legal clinic has increased astronomically. From the awareness created, we have already registered nine (9) new cases in the first three days of work this year 2003. This shows that the project has helped our helpless women and children and there will be a catastrophe if this legal aid is no more available. These wretched women especially widows have come to believe that when they come to WACOL they get aid. Some of the inheritance cases handled by WACOL include:
WACOL/CA/3: MRS. N. N. – WIDOW Mrs. N. N. was married to late Mr. J. O. N. under the marriage Act. She has seven children (six female and one male) all under sixteen. On the death of her husband, the members of the husband’s family took over the man’s property- both movable – and immovable and chased her out of their house accusing her of complicity in the death of her husband. She was ostracized by the community. Mrs. Ngene and her children were living in abject poverty and the children could not continue their education, despite the fact that their father owned several houses, two cars and enrolled them in good private schools before his death. WACOL advised her to hand over the estate of her husband to the Administrator General and Public Trustee of the Ministry of Justice. This she did and we have not heard of any further harassment by the husband’s family.
WACOL/CA/11: MRS. V. E. H. – WIDOW Mrs. V. E. was directed by one Barrister Offiah to WACOL, concerning threats and harassments by her in-laws. She lost her husband on 1st April 1999 and lost her son six months later. Her in-laws went to claim the gratuity of her late husband from the CBN where he worked, but the bank officials denied them this, since Mrs. E. and her children were the registered next-of-kin. The in-laws accused her of complicity in the death of her husband and denied her access to her late husbands property including houses, some of which they had confiscated. WACOL advised her to secure the important papers she had in a bank. She was also advised to obtain a letter of administration and write to the Commissioner of Police about the harassment by her sister-in-law if they failed to respond to our letter of invitation for a peaceful settlement.
WACOL/CA/16: MRS. J. N. Daughter of the Widow MRS. C. A. Mrs. J. N. made the report on behalf of her widowed mother who is now very ill. Mrs. J. N. lives at Port Harcourt. Her mother lives at Inland Town Onitsha. Her late father George had two brothers Gabriel and Benedict. Gabriel has two sons. Their father had a will, which apportioned each of his sons his landed property. Gabriel sold George’s own portion without telling this widow because she has no son. The widow sued him. Her lawyer advised settlement out of court. After the settlement in which each son was advised to keep to his portion, the widow mysteriously became sick of a mental illness. Her brother took her to Igamu Mental Clinic and she spent about one and half (1 / ) years in Lagos. By the time she came back Gabriel had taken over and installed tenants on the landed property of her husband at No. 14 Ugwunobankpa Street where she was residing. It was the threat and harassment of Gabriel which caused the widow mental stress. She has now gone blind. In 1997 Gabriel died after a brief illness in Onitsha. Two years later his widow came from London to take over her husband’s property and included that of George. She was advised to give up the blind widow’s property but she bluntly refused saying that her lawyer advised her that since the widow has no male issue she is not entitled to any property even when she was legally married. They have instituted an action in court before the matter was reported to us. She has written to about 23 human rights organisations on this matter without any positive response. At the moment WACOL has undertaken to provide legal assistance.
WACOL/CA/17: MRS. E. O. – WIDOW Mrs. E. O. has five children (three boys and two girls). She came to WACOL to be helped in claiming back her property, forcefully taken by her brother-in-law. Then legal adviser to wife of the Military Administrator, Mrs. Offia directed her to WACOL. Mrs. E. O. also stated that when her husband died, her 3 boys aged 11, 9 and 7 were taken to her sister-in-law living in Lagos without prior consultation with her. Her brother-in-law has taken steps to dispossess her of her husband’s valuable properties including land. Presently, she is living with her eldest daughter and her last child in her late husband’s quarters, courtesy of the wife of the then Military Administrator. WACOL has succeeded in brokering what looks like a lasting peace and secured the widow’s properties.
WACOL/CA/20: MRS. L. N. – WIDOW-LATE Late Mrs. L. N. was the first wife of late Igwe. She was married under the marriage Act. Later her husband married other wives. After he died, the step son claimed ownership of the house, saying he bought it from a mortgage bank when his father defaulted in payment of the mortgage debt. The matter went to court. It was after the death of her husband that the step son tried to forcefully eject Mrs. Ndu. He removed the roof of the building in July at the middle of the wet season in an effort to force out Mrs. N. She came to WACOL who with the help of the police replaced the roof. Though the roof was replaced the trauma affected the health of the old widow who was up to 79 years then. The matter is still in court and WACOL has been providing free legal aid in this case until her death in April 2001.
WACOL/CA/26: MRS. A. O. – WIDOW Mrs. A. O. was married under the Marriage Act. Her husband later married another wife who left after he died. The brother-in-law living in Jos ejected Mrs. A. O. and her kids from their house in Agbani. The widow has six children three boys and three girls. WACOL came to the aid of the widow by way of legal advice and directed her on how to go about collecting the husband’s entitlements. She has handed over the necessary documents to Administrator General and Public Trustee of Ministry of Justice. WACOL is trying to follow this up.
WACOL/CA/32: MRS. H. C. E. – WIDOW Mrs. H. E. lost her husband in a robbery incident, which claimed five lives in Lagos. The relations of her husband – especially the half-brother-accused her of being responsible for his death. The husband’s corpse was not buried for 15 months until she swore to an oath. She was even detained by the Police in Lagos, though she was still nursing her twin babies. This widow has six children and was legally married to her late husband. From the day she lost her husband, the kinsmen of her husband caused her extreme hardship and mental agony. All these were simply a ploy to confiscate the deceased’s estate. On the day the husband was finally buried, Mrs. H. E. and her children were chased out of their family house. When she came to WACOL she had nothing with which to raise her children, whereas her late husband was quite rich. All the deceased’s bank accounts were frozen. The husband was a Textile Consultant and the Managing Director of his own company until his death. The widow and her children are the surviving directors of this company. This company is now in disarray because the kinsmen wanted to inherit the entire property of the deceased. WACOL contacted the Commissioner of Police to help and save the widow and her children who were being maltreated and monitored on daily bases. WACOL advised Helen to hand over the estate of her husband to the Administrator General and Public Trustee of Ministry of Justice, which she did. The half brother to her late husband thereafter came up with a claim that the late brother had a female child outside his marriage. This matter is concurrently with AGPT, and WACOL is representing Mrs. H. E. The Ministry of Justice and WACOL delegation have taken stock of the Eze’s house and property. Happily, with our intervention the harassment and scramble for property of her deceased husband have been quelled..
WACOL/CA/36: MRS. O. E. – WIDOW Roman Catholic Priest who first listened to her story referred Mrs. O. E. to us. Mrs. O. E. was a widow with a seventeen month old baby when she came to WACOL. She lost her husband in a motor accident. She was just 21 years old herself. She was married to her husband for only five months. She was two months pregnant when the husband died. She thereafter had a baby girl. After her husband’s death, her brother-in-law immediately took over her husband’s property, business and even sold his car saying that he used the money realised from the sale of the car to pay for the funeral rites of his late brother. He refused to look after the widow unless she re-married him. The widow refused. She came to WACOL for help to pay for an apartment she secured here in Enugu, so that she would keep the job she got through her late husband’s friend. Unfortunately, WACOL has no funds for this type of aid. At the moment, we give legal aid at the barest minimum because of shortage of funds.
WACOL/CA/60: MRS. B. N. – WIDOW Mrs. N. lost her husband in 1986 and she does not have a male child. Her brother-in-law Mr. B. N. allegedly embezzled the pension and gratuity due her late husband. When the first daughter gained admission into University, Mr. B. N. was gave her N5,000.00 a year for 3 years. When the second daughter gained admission into University of Abuja, he did not give her any money. Mr. F., another brother-in-law later removed 4,000 blocks of 9” x 18” belonging to Mrs. N. to build a house for himself without so much as consulting her, though her late husband’s own uncompleted house was abandoned for lack of funds. Following WACOL’s intervention, the traditional ruler and the other members of the extended family got the brothers to desist from further encroaching on the estate of late Nwobodo and his widow. Further trouble erupted when the widow adopted a son and WACOL had to intervene again to broker peace. At the time of going to press there was no evidence that the peace will collapse. The widow is grateful to WACOL.
CHIEF (MRS.) E. A. N. – WIDOW FROM ABIA STATE This widow was directed to us by an Aba, Abia State based NGO (Women In Action for Development (WIAFOD)). She adopted two girls when she failed to have her own babies. They were wedded in court on 19-9-64 and her husband died on 26-2-98. Since the death of her husband, her brother-in-law and one of his sons have been harassing her and threatening her life so she ran away to the house of their traditional ruler and later rented a house away from their home. Before her husband died, he and his brother had shared their father’s property. Now this brother-in-law has taken over her husband’s property. He even took over the land she helped her husband to purchase during the war. Presently the widow has nowhere to plant her crops and she is poor since her pension benefits are not forth coming. Her brother-in-law has four boys and two girls and has told his children not to bother building a house since they will occupy her house when she dies. He had said categorically that the widow should not live in the compound unless he died. She came to WACOL to help her recover her husband’s property from this brother-in-law. WACOL is handicapped by lack of funds, particularly needed for a case like this that is outside Enugu State.
WACOL/CA/65: MRS. M. A. – WIDOW (WACOL STAR WIDOW) The widow claimed that her husband before he died gave her four pieces of land. She has only daughters and no sons. Her husband had seven sons from the other three co-wives. Now that her husband is dead, the four grown up sons have taken over the land and the cassava she planted claiming that they belong to their father. They have made life unbearable for her, threatening to kill her. They have said that once she finishes the traditional mourning ceremonies, they will send her away. The matter is with the police and WACOL has entered appearance to stop violence against the widow. We have written to the Commissioner of Police on this threat to life and are in contact with the traditional ruler to help resolve the issue peacefully. The case is still pending. Meanwhile, Mrs. A.’s determination has made her the WACOL star widow for 2001.
WACOL/LA/183: MRS. F. O. – WIDOW She has two sons aged 16yrs and 12yrs. Her husband had two other brothers. One later died too. The eldest of the brothers who was not in good terms with her husband when he was alive continued the enmity with her. Her husband built a house and asked his elder brother to go away from his house after they fought. In this fight the elder brother bit off the ear of her husband. He later built his own house and moved out. When her husband died, this man and his mother drove her away on the pretext that she killed her husband. He moved back into her husband’s house and drove her away with her two sons. He did not even allow her to mourn her husband in the house he built with his sweat. When she removed her mourning clothes after one year the other family members used masquerades to put her into possession. This brother-in-law wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police alleging that Mrs. F. O. , her mother, her first son and other five family members (elderly men) beat up his mother. Before this, she came to WACOL to report all that her mother-in-law and brother-in-law were doing to her. We invited them they refused to come and wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police. WACOL represented Mrs. F. O. at the Police Station. After about two meetings the Police asked parties to sign an undertaking in which the brother-in-law was ordered to vacate the premises of Mrs. F. O.’s husband. The matter was settled. WACOL advised Florence to report to us if the brother-in-law violates the undertaking he signed.
WACOL/LA/199: MRS. U. O. – WIDOW She is a young widow with three children. The first daughter is 4 years old; the second daughter is 2 years 11months old while the son is 1 year and 2 months old. The villagers were planning to make her go through some obnoxious widowhood practices when one elderly woman, a Christian, over-heard the plans and came to us. We gave her letters to the Parish Priest and the Traditional Ruler to stop the villagers from carrying out their plans. The Priest with the help of the Police rescued the young woman widow and she later came to thank us.
Some Of Our current cases include:
WACOL/LA/99: MRS M. A. – WIDOW She lost her husband at a very tender age. They had six children before the husband died. The eldest Chinenye a girl is 17 years in Junior Secondary School (J.S.S.) 3; Onyinye a boy 13 years old also in J.S.S. 3; Ifeoma a girl 12 years old is in J.S.S 2, Paul a boy 11 years is in Elementary 5; Chioma a girl 9 years is in Elementary 4 and Arinze a boy 7 years is in Elementary 3. Her husband was fairly rich when he was alive and has about four sheds in the market. When he died the brothers-in-law bounced on both the flat the husband was occupying and the sheds in question. She came to WACOL after she reported the matter to the police who arrested the younger brother-in-law and sent the eldest brother-in-law away from the flat. One of the distant relatives of the husband helped in taking her to the police. It was when the younger brother-in-law was released on bail that he consulted a Lawyer and sued her, the police and his own brother at the Federal High Court for breach of his fundamental human right. This was a ploy to intimidate her and scare her away from the property of her husband. It was at this juncture she came to WACOL. WACOL has taken out a suit through our external solicitor challenging the rights of the younger brother over the property of her husband. We also represent her at the Federal High Court where she is a defendant.
WACOL/LA/113: MRS. O. O. – WIDOW Mrs. O. is a young widow. Mrs. O. and her husband were trading on yams. She has two very young girls for her husband before his death. Because her children were girls, the father-in-law and brothers-in-law decided to dispossess her of her husband’s property. They wanted to sell the husband’s lorry but could not do so because she had the documents of title. They broke into her rooms in her absence with the aid of a police woman who is a relation of her husband and carted away her property and money about N120,000.00 given to her by people to start trading again. She reported the matter when they locked her room for about two weeks. It was WACOL who put her back into possession before they now brought the Police Officer and broke into her rooms. We reported this matter to the Police but two of her brothers-in-law and her sister-in-law are Police Officers and the matter is being frustrated by the Police. We are still following up the matter but the recent transfers of Commissioners of Police in this State have not helped matters.
WACOL/LA/119: MADAM V. M. – WIDOW She is an old widow in her seventies. She had a son and a daughter. After her husband death, her son disappeared. One man, a trouble maker not even related to her husband started claiming her husband’s cashew plantation. He had beaten her up on several occasions when she went to harvest the cashew seeds. This man at times used policemen to intimidate and harass the widow and her daughter. The widow is so poor that her church has to build a batcher for her. They wanted to build a permanent structure for her but this man refused. He is a member of the same church. WACOL will go to Court in this matter to establish once and for all the owner of the plantation in issue.
WACOL/LA/173: MADAM R. M. – WIDOW Madam R. M. is another widow in her late seventies. She has a piece of land here in Enugu but because she could not develop it she put traders and artisans on the land. Sometime ago the original vendors sold the same piece of land to a military officer. They went to court and there was an injunction. She was stopped from going into the land, she later became sick. Right now she has a hole in the bone narrow of her leg. She reported her ordeal at the hands of a lawyer who has been pressurizing her to sell the land to butchers. The lawyer has collected money from the butchers but she refused to take it. So she came to WACOL for help. We have referred her matter to our external solicitor.
WACOL/LA/18: MRS. E. I. – WIDO Mrs. E. I. is a widow with seven children. She was living in Ondo State (Western Nigeria) before her husband died but she is from Enugu State. Her brothers-in-law were wickedly dealing with her and she was advised to come to WACOL. The brothers-in-law were bent on dispossessing her of her husband’s property because her sons and daughters are still young. They sold the bundles of zinc her husband bought for his own building. They used up the cement blocks he moulded for his house. They even sold the piece of land he was to build on to a complete stranger in the village. She went to the family and asked for her own share of the proceeds of the pieces of family land they were selling and they asked her how she expected them to share land with a mere woman. She went to Customary Court to share the pieces of family land left. The Court was to give judgment in her favour when the brothers-in-law applied for transfer of the case that reached judgment stage to another court. This was done to frustrate and punish her. It was at this juncture she came to WACOL. She said that the clerk of court was instrumental to the transfer. We applied for transfer back to court of first instance. We went for transfer of the clerk of court and we were told he has been transferred to another local government area on the accusation of corruption brought against him by many people. We are still waiting for the transfer. We asked the widow to go back to the west. We shall inform her of the transfer.
WACOL/LA/148: MRS. H. E. – WIDOW Mrs. H. E. is a young widow who has two daughters. From the day of her husband death her mother-in-law and brother-in-law started saying that she would go away since she has only daughters. On the day they were going home for burial, her brother-in-law used her husband’s vehicle to carry his own family home and left her and her kids behind. It was a friend of her late husband who took her home for the burial of her husband. The brother-in-law wanted to break into her apartment while she was still in the village but her landlord stopped him. He is still using the husband’s vehicle. In the village, her Mother-in-law made life miserable for her and she had to go home to her parents.
*****Refer to Case Graph-1*****
CASES AS THEY STAND IN THE YEAR 2004
Above is a graphical illustration of cases in our legal unit from January to December 2004. There are also 54 Incidences of Cohabitation which is not reflected in the graph. This is due to hardship and accommodation problems women are faced with in Abuja. Some of the cases have two ingredients in one e.g. Denial of inheritance and Assault or Violence Against Women. From the foregoing, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to cope with the said increase. The legal clinic has engaged more external solicitors who handled our cases in other zones outside the major towns in areas covered by this project. The challenges are that when matters are charged to court the matters are not given speedy trials. So also with the police who at times go on transfer and abandon the matter on hand.
The legal aid is making a lot of impact in the society generally. Now women came for help at WACOL a neutral place that is free from bias. They obtain justice and peace from the legal aid especially when the matters are fully resolved at WACOL at no expense. We feel happy when at the end of each peaceful resolution of conflict the parties on their own accord get up, shake hands and thank WACOL and go home happy. Some, who come to WACOL, apart from being poor, fear intimidation and harassment from state agencies – the courts and the police. Now people are familiar with our procedures in resolving conflicts they come to us when they are invited in a matter. Those who came to WACOL also help to encourage others to seek help from us as the legal services are free, thanks to the magnanimity of the Swedish NGO Foundation for Human Rights. These women are poor but they now realize when their rights are violated and run to WACOL for help/aid.
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