Legal rights are clearly rights which exist under the rules of legal systems or by virtue of decisions of suitably authoritative bodies within them.

The absence of the Rule of Law or the existence of a system that does not uphold the Rule of Law constitutes a significant obstacle to the enjoyment of legal rights by citizens of a society. In countries with weak judicial systems, both men and women regularly face difficulties in the enjoyment of legal rights and protections as provided by the laws of that country. However, women often experience barriers in addition to those experienced by men. The inability to access justice service providers significantly hampers women’s access to justice thereby preventing them from enjoying rights and protections provided to them by laws. Even in cases where women manage to access justice service providers and initiate a judicial process, biases and lack of gender sensitivity among judicial officers often impede women’s chances of acquiring favorable decisions.

Understanding and identifying areas where gender disparity is highest within the judicial system of the Punjab and where it is that women face barriers in access to justice can help policy makers enact new policies to remove disparities and strengthen the existing system. This thematic area, therefore, aims to identify specific problems that women face while accessing justice by identifying weaknesses within the judicial system. It also identifies challenges that women face upon incarceration and the existence of facilities for women and children in the prisons of the Punjab.