Rukhsana Bibi belongs to an area in Khyber Pakhtunwa province where women lack access to fundamental rights and where rights’ violation is a common practice. Life for Rukhsana Bibi had never been easy. She was forced to marry against her will, and despite her efforts and compromises, she could not make her marriage work. The struggle continued as Rukhsana Bibi was denied the most basic rights. She had never been to a police station before and did not know how to report her case. She then came to know about a paralegal in her area who could help her. Determined to get custody of her children, Rukhsana Bibi met with Mr Mureed Hussain, a paralegal from Paroa, D.I. Khan, and shared her problem. Mr Hussain informed Rukhsana Bibi about the women desks at police stations. She then reached out to a woman official with her issue that was redressed with the help of an Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee. The conflict was settled and Rukhsana Bibi became the custodian of her children, while her ex-husband was given the responsibility of paying for the children’s living costs.

Once Rukhsana Bibi and her ex-husband both remarried, the issue of custody arose once again. Her ex-husband took the children in his care, leaving Rukhsana Bibi extremely distressed. In this situation, Mr Hussain mediated yet again and settled the issue at the local level. Ms Rukhsana and her ex-husband agreed upon a settlement deed which enshrines that the children’s custody will be given to their maternal grandmother, while their father will pay their maintenance allowance.

Rukhsana Bibi was pleased and content with the decision: “The women police officers were friendly and paid all due attention to my case,” she said. She was also satisfied with the local paralegal who helped her twice and addressed her issues promptly and free of cost.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has trained 200 paralegals who have provided services to 1,092 people. Paralegals resolve minor disputes such as family disputes, agricultural issues, and cases of domestic violence at the local level. 

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