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MWRAF started its services in 2000 giving legal advice on matters relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance of wife, child, custody etc. Appeal cases were also taken up by retaining outside lawyers. The service was basically to cater to the needs of poor Muslim women who faced difficulties and for women who were victimized on account of ignorance of the law.

 

Since 2003, cases have been handled at Board of Quazis, Appeal court, District court and Magistrate’s court by our in- house lawyer.

Trained Barefoot legal counselors operate in the East, Central and Northwestern provinces.

 

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Muslim Personal Law Reforms

Since its inception, a major focus of MWRAF's work has been on Muslim Personal Law [ MPL] reforms . This entails working proactively with Quazi judges, expanding the legal clinic and interacts with other selected constituencies within the Muslim community to consolidate the reforms process.

Our vision is: To expand the constituency (within the community) that is able to push for gender just reforms and sustain a progressive outlook.

Our interventions are at multiple fronts, building on experiential learning at different levels

. •  Engagement on legal reforms –

•  The MPL reforms initiative in 1986 was a historic step, with the first memo submitted to the MPLR Committee [set up by the government at the time]. MWRAF was represented in this committee. A parallel signature campaign was launched to mobilize Muslim women and men.

•  ‘Muslim Women and Family law in Sri Lanka', 1988 – a preliminary research identified institutional and social barriers in the legal structure and examined legal aspects of marriage, divorce, maintenance and custody.

•  MPL reforms were re-rejuvenated in 1992, when MWRAF was represented in the National Reforms Committee. MWRAF gave oral evidence to justify/ substantiate recommendations and need for family law reforms.

•  “Women and Laws in the Muslim world ” – Collective Research was launched in collaboration with International Solidarity Network - WLUML, with selected 14 Muslim countries and communities - [1997- 2002]. Mwraf was a partner and organized the national level research. This was a comprehensive research that encompassed the archival, legal and field information that gave the fillip to Mwraf to further its gender justice approach/ aims. The interaction with global allies and solidarity with women from Muslim communities, sharing own experiences and strategies, enhanced its own knowledge-information-experience base. This helped to shape the MWRAF's future work via enrichment of the resource centre, documentation and dissemination.

•  In 2005, initiated the Independent Committee MPL reforms [ICMPLR] process that comprises / represented a cross section of the community, in an inclusive strategy to take the Muslim personal law reforms forward. This comprehensive draft report has now been finalized and will be published. This was a landmark in the Muslim women's struggle for reforms on Muslim personal law. […. On going]

•  MWRAF is represented in the recent Cabinet Committee set up by the Justice Ministry [ 2009] to examine the issue of family law reforms. Once again the state reforms agenda has been now re-revived.

 

•  Engagement with law related institutions –

•  Dialogues with ‘Quazi's judges' since 1988.

•  Legal literacy aimed at conscientising diverse social –community actors.

•  Quazi bulletin to disseminate national and international updates on family law related legal - thought and practice and women's strategies.

•  Interacting with Judicial Services Commission, Board of Quazis, Muslim lawyers, University and other related individual / agencies.

•  Continuous training for Quazi judges – islandwide.

 

•  Engagement on social –community front –

•  Developed a national pool of barefoot lawyers via intensive para- legal training who run the mobile clinics in selected points.

•  Taking up cases in court, enhanced Mwraf's public image and credibility that vouch the [nearly 100%] success of cases.

     

    Strategies

  • Public education & awareness
  • Legal Counseling /legal clinic/mobile clinics
  • Take up appeal cases in court from Appeal court, Magistrate's court, District court,…..
  • Community mobilization and outreach
  • Research & Publications
  • Developing own Resources & Documentation & Data base.
  • Networking - local, national and international.