Service provision including, legal advice, court representation, social support and counselling remains the backbone of WCLAC’s work although there are now many other aspects comprising WCLAC’s programme. The Service Unit runs WCLAC’s emergency protection shelter and also runs numerous awareness-raising workshops, as well as supervising grassroots partners’ legal and social work and representing WCLAC on the advisory board of the Palestinian Authority’s Alimony Fund.
Legal Advice, Court Representation, Social Support and Counselling
WCLAC has a team of lawyers and social workers working in WCLAC centres in Ramallah, East Jerusalem, Hebron and Beit Jala (near Bethlehem). Each year WCLAC works on over 400 legal cases with Palestinian women, taking cases to Palestinian civil and Shari’a courts where necessary and mediating out-of-court negotiations where appropriate. Hundreds of women also benefit from WCLAC’s social counselling – seeking solutions to support women-headed households, families threatened with eviction (due to poverty or Israeli home demolitions), mediating discussions with family members and trying to empower women with physical and emotional resources to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Emergency protection shelter for women victims of domestic violence
WCLAC runs an emergency protection shelter for women victims of domestic violence. WCLAC’s shelter is unique in being a service available around the clock to women in need and being formally designated by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank as the primary referral centre for women escaping or at critical risk of domestic violence. The current shelter has only been made possible through a decade of struggle to find a suitable location and the right local support base. Since 1996, two sites originally planned for the shelter have had to be abandoned due to rumour-mongering and opposition. However, by working to build local and national support from key stakeholders, WCLAC has now been providing life-saving emergency protection with strong local support in the same location since 2006. Having pioneered a template for women’s protection, WCLAC is working closely with the PA in the West Bank to develop a regulatory framework for shelters and to build national capacity for protection and rehabilitation.
Staff from WCLAC’s Service Unit run workshops each year promoting women’s rights to men and women and often responding to local or personal issues raised by participants; each year a number of participants become WCLAC clients.
WCLAC uses a variety of methodologies for raising awareness through workshops which are targeted to optimise the impact of WCLAC’s message and tailored to particular audiences. Each year WCLAC holds dozens of information sessions in partnership with numerous community based organisations and village and refugee camp councils. Often the workshops tackle a single issue on which the community has requested information (e.g. gender issues, personal status law, CEDAW) and participants include multipliers in the community such as local authorities, school teachers, women’s group leaders and other influential personalities – both men and women.
Other workshops target a particular women’s groups and work together with them for a series of around 7-10 workshops. The use of a series of workshops spread over several months allows groups to create a safe environment for discussing local rights issues, and offers plenty of opportunities for women – as rights-holders – to seek specific advice relating to their lives, whether in plenary discussion, in a one-to-one consultation following a workshop, or through becoming a client with WCLAC.