By Azania Post Reporter
CONTRIBUTION of paralegals in helping victims access justice, especially women and children in Southern Tanzania caught in the middle of matrimonial and inheritance disputes, has been helpful, albeit limited.
According to the Swedish embassy in Tanzania paralegal services in marginalized areas plays a crucial role in social , economic and cultural development.
The embassy says most parts in Tanzania particularly in Southern highlands have limited access to legal services.
Mid last month, Norwegian and Swedish embassies visited paralegal projects in Mbinga district, Ruvuma region, where a total of 25 volunteers supported by Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) provide free legal aid in a 250, 000 rural population.
Most issues in the area can be traced back to success of coffee farming, which has been both a blessing and a curse.
On the positive side, coffee revenues generally raise household income but on the contrary, prevalent patriarchy system has been the source of family infights as husbands/male spouses claim lion’s share of proceeds despite women contributing the most in labour.
More money to husbands/ male spouses may sometimes lead to polygamy or adultery, consequently leading to divorce and disputes over matrimonial wealth (land and other property), with women and children being the most affected.
Flanked by two paralegals, Maria Mbunda , an orphaned divorce victim managed to secure her family land and property after a decade-long battle with relatives, thanks to free legal aid.
The LHRC receives core-funding from Norwegian and Swedish Embassies.