In this article, Twinkle Jaiswal from Amity Law School, Lucknow discusses All you need to know about the ways of spreading legal awareness in the society.
What do we understand by the term ‘legal awareness’
Legal awareness lies at the base of any effort toward legal empowerment. Critical knowledge of legal provisions and processes, coupled with the skills to use this knowledge to realize rights and entitlements will empower people to demand justice, accountability and effective remedies at all levels. Legal awareness sometimes called Public legal education and civics education is the empowerment of individuals regarding issues involving the law. Legal awareness helps to promote consciousness of legal culture, participation in the formation of laws and the rule of law.
Legal awareness drive
- It comprises a range of activities intended to build public awareness and skills related to law and the justice system. This term also refers to the fields of practice and study concerned with those activities, and to a social and professional movement that advocates greater societal commitment to educating people about the law.
Anna-Marie Marshall explains that “in order to realize their rights, people need to take the initiative to articulate them. This initiative, in turn, depends on the availability and the relevance of legal schema to people confronting problems.”
- This is because laws exist as part of a larger organizational ecosystem in which the interests of the organization, as well as those of the actors, become inextricably linked to the ways in which they are enacted.
- It is different from the education of students in law school seeking a degree in law (which is often simply called “legal education”) and the continuing professional education of lawyers and judges (which is sometimes called “continuing legal education”), public legal education is principally aimed at people who are not lawyers, judges, or degree-seeking law students.
Ways of spreading legal awareness
- We can spread legal awareness by educating people about their rights, about their duties and about new laws and provisions.
- First, all we need is a good plan for this purpose. Law Institution consisting Legal Aid Committee can do a lot. The law students in these committees, although lacking legal expertise, have the ability to not only spread awareness but also help enforce the basic rights of those in undeveloped regions.
- For example, they can associate themselves with an RTI activist organization and help people file RTIs. It is not uncommon for these students to visit rural and undeveloped areas to talk to the people.
- In some cases, they also organize street plays in the local languages and perform it weekly, each time in a different area. They even help people get in touch with lawyers who can file PILs or other petitions or suits for them. Visiting jails and helping inmates apply for balls or deportation is also part of their programmes.
- For the purpose posters and paintings can be a better idea. Sticking posters or painting the same matter on trucks and public vehicles is much better idea. But the use of words should be as less as possible. Rather, pictures should dominate such posters as pictures relate more to an illiterate citizen.
- Even if such person does not understand what the picture is about, the picture should be such that, at the very least, that person will ask someone else what it is about.
- An animated picture of domestic violence or a real picture of a happy farmer and his family are just some of the many such images that could generate curiosity and interest. It is not practical to make posters of every language. Flow of language changes every few kilometres. Images will speak louder to these people than words.
Using Social Media as a tool for spreading legal awareness
- Social media nowadays is the best means to regulate a message. To spread the word in urban areas, simply advertising a Facebook page, frequently giving updates on a Twitter account and using other social networking sites can make ample of difference. Now a day, having a mobile is common, even in undeveloped or rural areas.
- Viral marketing is basically a marketing strategy that compares spread of ideas to spread of viruses. Imagine if one interesting SMS is sent to ten people. Out of those maybe five will forward it to ten other people. And each of those ten send it to ten more… and so on. The message multiplies at an exponential rate.
- This, of course, is all theoretical. However, imagine if the ‘legal awareness’ campaign associates itself with Mobile Operators and sends just one lakh messages to those mobile numbers that SMS frequently and have a good messaging scheme.
- Furthermore, imagine if the message is one worth forwarding like for example, ‘Under Section 51 of Cr.P.C., a female can only be searched by another female with strict regard to decency.
Television is also a good means to spread a message. It is easily accessible to all. Advertising on Television can be considered once but directly advertising on Television must be avoided. Advertising your campaign directly on T.V. is an unnecessary waste of time and money. The campaign should cover these two dialects as well as Hindi and some even in English.
Seeking government’s help for widening the scope of legal awareness drives
- Once a full-fledged campaign is launched, government assistance can be sought. Apart from sponsoring programmes they can also grant tax exemptions for movies, literature, etc. that encourage people to stand up for their rights.
- Joint meetings with Government officials can give the campaign a better direction. Focus can be put on rights related to right in common land, livelihood, subsidiaries and facilities.
- Special permissions such as those required for to enter jails and interview with inmates to check if they are not being ill-treated can also only be obtained quicker with Government co-operation. Draft bills can be proposed to be tabled at the state Parliament.
- These plans are simple yet effective method to connect with the people and make them aware of their rights. It is cost-effective and realistic. A good plan need not constitute one complex strategy with several graph and map references but rather a mixture of several simple ones while keeping in mind short term as well as long term goals.
- If followed, the people’s lives will be as beautiful as the region. The campaign should cover these two dialects as well as Hindi and some even in English. This is more of a marketing strategy.
People still remember Tata tea’s ‘Jaago re’ which encouraged people to question government authorities, stand against corruption, vote, etc. Did it work? All these little ads, slogans, movements, etc do not directly don’t seem to make much difference, but the statistics of the desired results should speak for itself. After the ‘Jaago re’ campaign, the number of people between age groups 18-25 who applied for election cards increased substantially. Just like advertising increases sale. Comparing a social awareness campaign to a product or service may not seem appropriate, but in
After the ‘Jaago re’ campaign, the number of people between age groups 18-25 who applied for election cards increased substantially. Just like advertising increases sale. Comparing a social awareness campaign to a product or service may not seem appropriate, but in reality, the methods that have to be used to spread awareness of a product and campaign are similar.
 Marshall, Anna-Marie (2005). “Idle Rights: Employees’ Rights Consciousness and the Construction of Sexual Harassment Policies.”. Law and Society Review. 39 (1): 83–124. doi:10.1111/j.0023-9216.2005.00078.