Saturday, October 22, 2011

Seema’s Story | We Need Legal Aid

Seema’s Story | We Need Legal Aid

In Her Own Words:
One challenge with legal aid for new immigrants is the language barrier. They may not be able to fully articulate their situation in English. This may also pose a barrier for them to understand Canadian laws. Often web-based materials do not take the literacy factor into account. The current eligibility process also has violence as one of the considerations to qualify to receive legal aid. In many cultures, airing your dirty laundry is perceived as shameful. Acknowledging violence in the relationship can be perceived as embarrassing and often women are scared to disclose. Not all abused women call police and therefore there may be no charges laid, even where there is violence. To add to this complexity, if you add the dynamic of language barrier, this can screen out many eligible immigrants applying for legal aid.

We Need Legal Aid

The legal aid system in British Columbia is in crisis. A decade of cuts to services and underfunding has made it impossible to keep up with the need for legal representation. Our court system is clogged to the point where people accused of serious crimes walk free because their cases can’t be heard in time.

Meanwhile, women, children and seniors in critical situations are unable to access legal representation when they need it, exposing them to more danger. Our most vulnerable citizens are the ones who need legal aid the most – and we can’t adequately provide it.

Something has to be done.

Legal Aid in BC is provided by the LSS. Financial and issue eligibility requirements for legal aid in BC change and are adjusted by the LSS in response to the funds available to them from time to time. For information on current eligibility requirements visit

No comments:

Post a Comment