JCSDO supports access to justice by raising community awareness, providing survivor support and protection, offering free legal aid, and holding justice sector actors accountable.
Earlier this year, a thirteen-year-old girl was welcomed into a community safe house operated by Jeepyah Civil Society Development Organization (JCSDO), a grantee of Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP). The girl had been raped by a villager in the Mon region while her parents were outside the home performing casual labor. One of the women’s groups formed by JCSDO learned of her case and referred her to the safe house, where she received shelter and counseling and was supported to be a witness at the trial. Although the perpetrator received a 9-year sentence at hard labor, he managed to escape from the labor camp and was only recently re-arrested and sent to prison.
While the perpetrator was at large, the girl remained at the safe house for her protection and further counseling. She was illiterate, having left school after only a few years of instruction, but she was able to improve her education and learn practical life skills during her time at the safe house. Now, she is a volunteer at the Mon State Women and Children’s Upgrade Centre (MSWCUC) and is continuing to expand her education and skills so that she will be able to make a life for herself as an adult.
JCSDO is improving access to justice by engaging local communities, providing safe spaces, offering free legal aid, and working to hold justice sector actors accountable. The overall objective of the JCSDO grant is to increase legal literacy, access to justice, and the participation of marginalized populations, including victims/survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking in targeted regions/states. Their assistance includes training paralegals to provide free legal advice and referral services, and providing free legal aid/court representation to clients.
The safe house is providing shelter, basic needs, counseling services, and legal advice for up to 8 clients at a time. JCSDO expects to serve at least 24 clients during the one-year grant period. Additionally, JCSDO will publish a report of relevant access to justice challenges based on their experience in the region. The report will be in multiple languages and distributed to key justice stakeholders in Mon State to further advocacy efforts and encourage collaboration. These activities are supporting the goals of PRLP to increase access to justice, particularly for marginalized populations in target regions.