ACCESS TO JUSTICE
NU believes in the necessity of more affordable and accessible systems of justice than that inherent in Bangladesh’s existing formal court and judicial systems. The lack of awareness among poor people of their civil rights compounds the issue. NU thus strives to see an increase in administrative participation and stronger representative structures at the grassroots level, giving poor people improved access to justice and other social services irrespective of gender or social class.
Provisions and Strategies: Community-level legal and human rights education; Paralegal and human rights training for community leaders; Legal aid support to the most disadvantaged groups; Promotion of Shalish as means toward more fair and equitable dispute resolution; Building community institutions such as Shalish committees and Human Rights Monitoring Groups (HRMG) to build community activism; Publication of quarterly newsletter with specific focus on women’s rights; Monitoring of the local human rights situation and the fostering of human rights activism at the grassroots level.
Women remain among the most vulnerable and disempowered groups in Bangladesh. Cultural practices such as early marriage, polygamy, dowry, female seclusion, and arbitrary (oral) divorce contribute to women’s subordinate status; while religion has been used to sanction these practices. Lack of awareness of their rights coupled with deeply rooted gender inequalities seriously constrains women’s access to appropriate, gender-sensitive justice. NU thus works to empower women and promote their effective participation in Shalish procedures and other community decision-making processes and activities.
RIGHTS OF DALITS, EXCLUDED, MARGINALIZED and INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES
NU aims to promote cultural diversity and improve the quality of life of the most excluded and marginalized communities of Bangladesh, including Dalits and indigenous peoples. Though Dalits have a significant role in the country’s economic, environment and social development, the Dalit community lacks basic provisions like food, water, shelter and education. NU supports the Bangladesh Dalits Human Rights (BDHR) organization and their struggle for safe and secure livelihoods through, among other initiatives, the “National Campaign to Protect and Promote the Rights of Dalits in Bangladesh” Project.
URBAN INFORMAL SECTOR LABOR RIGHTS
The ‘informal sector’ in Bangladesh represents economic activity taking place outside the realm of state sanctioning and state regulatory practices. Its main distinction from the ‘formal sector’ is thus the absence of rights and social protection of the workers involved in it. NU works to help cultivate the organizations that exist to promote the rights of informal sector laborers, especially laborers from the Dalit community (the most marginalized in Bangladeshi society), to help form alliances between these organizations and to push for policy reform. .