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Norwegian Embassy visit to paralegal projects in Mbinga

Paralegal projects in Mbinga district

Between 19-21 September 2017, Norwegian and Swedish embassies visited paralegal projects in Mbinga district, Ruvuma region, where a total of 25 volunteers supported by Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) provide free legal aid in a rural population of 250 000 .

With limited access to legal services in the Southern highlands, the contribution of paralegals in helping victims access justice has been of great value, but also limited.  Especially women and children caught in the middle of matrimonial and inheritance disputes have benefitted.

Most issues in the area can be traced back to success of coffee production, which has been both a blessing and a curse. On the positive side, coffee revenues generally raise household income.  But the prevalent patriarchy system has been the source of family infights, as husbands/male spouses claim the lion’s share of revenues despite women contributing the most in labour. More money to husbands/ male spouses may sometimes lead to polygamy or adultery, and consequently leading to divorce and disputes over matrimonial wealth (land and other property), with women and children frequently being disadvantaged.

Maria Mbunda, an orphaned divorce victim managed to secure her family land and property after a decade-long battle with relatives, thanks to free legal aid.

The LHRC receives core-funding from Norwegian and Swedish Embassies.