A Short Guide To Free Legal Aid for Women and Children In India

According to Section 12(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, free legal aid for women and children is a must.

Here is a short guide that will help you navigate the process of availing, free legal aid for women and children in India.

As an acknowledgement of the adoption of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 on November 9, 1995, every year November 9 is celebrated as National Legal Services Day in India.

Crime against women is indisputably high. With each passing day, numbers only seem to be increasing at an alarmingly fast rate. Be it dowry harassment at home to sexual harassment and objectification outside the home or at the workplace, women are struggling at their zenith when it comes to survival against this disparity that is prevalent almost everywhere.

Even in this scenario, the number of women aware and willing to seek legal help doesn’t even come remotely close to anywhere in terms of the number of such crimes taking place. When we try to understand, what could be the reason or reasons? We found some that top the list, a list that is so long that one can consider it as a never-ending one:

  • Fear of acceptance if the issue is raised
  • Fear of repercussions
  • Societal pressure
  • Lack of family support
  • Financial dependency
  • Lack of legal awareness
  • Comfortability and habitually when it comes to sustaining abuse silently are some of the few reasons that can be counted as common and take up a major portion if we consider the numerical aspects.

Apart from the above-mentioned, one of the core issues, that women hesitate to seek legal help is due to the perception of the “supposed” financial burden that comes along with it. We mentioned supposed because of the perception of huge financial requirements when it comes to seeking any legal remedies, that may not be the norm for every legal redressal.

This itself throws light on how little is our awareness when it comes to our legal rights. Women (irrespective of their financial background) can seek legal aid/help free of cost in India!

What are the provisions for free legal aid for women and children in India?

Section 12 of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1987.

According to Article 39A of the Constitution of India, Free legal aid or services is a fundamental human right that every human being should be accessible to. Keeping this in mind, the National Legal Service Authority provides free legal aid and services to help and represent people who for whatever reason are not able to afford it.

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This provision is particularly for those who belong to the below-poverty line and marginalized sect of the community. People within this provision will also be provided with a lawyer for court proceedings.

Can a woman seek free legal help under this provision?

Free Legal Aid for Women and Children in India

Yes, according to Section 12(c) of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, women and children are among those who can seek Free legal aid. A woman (regardless of her financial background or income) is entitled to seek Free legal aid if and when needed.

A woman can approach for free legal services with any grievance, be it Civil or Criminal in nature. E.g., Dowry harassment, domestic violence, divorce and child custody, and property-related cases are most commonly seen in such circumstances. However, free legal aid is not just restricted to the issues mentioned above. Any crime against a woman is a major crime.

“The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.” The above lines in reference to woman and child by Marian Wright Edelman (Yale Law School) are true to what is said.

The safety of women and children is one of the major responsibilities of society. A woman deprived of any rights is a step taken backwards in the welfare of the nation. And Legal Rights are indeed one of them!

National Legal Aid helpline no – 15100 or one can email at [email protected] or submit an online application through the portal nalsa.gov.in for any grievance.

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Image source for Free Legal Aid for Women and Children in India: CanvaPro


About the Author

Sheeba Vinay

Writer/Literary Agent/Lawyer In Making. I write to stay sane, and when not writing you can find me binge watching crime documentaries. Hopelessly in love with Jane Austen, Books and Tea! [email protected] read more...

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