Towards a holistic approach to the legal aid system in Zimbabwe: Challenges indigent women face in instituting proceedings and enforcing judgments in civil matters
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This research, carried out by a legal aid lawyer with the government’s Legal Aid Directorate, seeks to highlight the various challenges which are faced by indigent women as they access justice through the legal aid system. The main focus is on the Legal Aid Directorate as the main legal services provider since it is the task of the government to provide its citizens with legal aid services. The Directorate falls under the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs. This study was conducted using four methodologies, namely, the women’s law approach, grounded theory, human rights approach and the sex and gender approach. Each methodology assisted in revealing the full context of the barriers which prevent indigent women from accessing justice and they also revealed the effectiveness of the current legal aid services offered by both the government and NGOs. The human rights based approach was useful in measuring the extent of the state’s compliance with international instruments. The right to legal aid is fundamental in promoting and advancing women’s access to justice. Although the Zimbabwean Constitution provides for legal aid as a national objective under section 31, women are finding legal aid inaccessible and unaffordable because they fail to meet the legal expenses involved in obtaining legal aid services. There is a need to exempt indigent women from paying any court fees or costs related to the issuing and service of legal process as these costs defeat the whole purpose of offering legal aid services to indigent women. Current laws on legal aid have to be monitored and evaluated so that existing legislation is properly implemented. This will result in women benefiting from a legal aid system which should offer effective solutions to their problems. The concept of having a revolving fund is a welcome development as this will offer financial assistance to indigent clients.
Additional Citation InformationChiware, F. (2014). Towards a holistic approach to the legal aid system in Zimbabwe: Challenges indigent women face in instituting proceedings and enforcing judgments in civil matters (Unpublished master's thesis). Women’s Law, Southern and Eastern African Regional Centre for Women’s Law, University of Zimbabwe.
University of Zimbabwe