Special Report:Female Mediators: First Step to Justice

Monday, 07 April 2014 By  NNT

Bangkok, 4 April 2014 - There are not only unrest cases in the southern border provinces. Like other areas throughout Thailand, the region deals with civil conflicts which can be settled by mediation. Recently in Pattani province, Prince of Songkla University and the Ministry of Justice have launched a project to train Muslim women mediators for provincial Islamic offices in the far South.

The project, piloted in five southern border provinces in 2014, was initiated after the provincial Islamic offices had increasingly received petitions from Muslim women had been violated by other members in their families. The provincial Islamic offices found it difficult to help those women due to the fact that they had no female mediators to mediate the cases.

The university, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, recently organized the first training for Muslim women who wanted to work as mediators in the cases involving Islamic family and inheritance laws. The training took place at the Park View Resort hotel in Pattani province in 2014.

Deputy chief of the project Khosali Benmat, an law lecturer from Fatoni University said the project had asked various mosques in the deep South to send Muslim women, 10-15 people from each province, to participate in the training. It was the first time ever that Muslim women would be trained as mediators for the provincial Islamic offices in Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Songkhla and Satun. The first group of Muslim female mediators would mediate rows for Muslim women in order to screen and try to settle their disputes before the cases were processed in a court system, the academic explained.

The project holds the belief that Muslim women mediators are able to deal with their fellow Muslim women better than their male counterparts since they can discuss sensitive issues better. The Muslim women who have trained in the project are expected to work as volunteers first since the provincial Islamic offices still have no budget to hire them. The project is therefore trying to raise fund to pay the women.

It takes more than a strong will to mediate a family conflict. Mediators, especially those working in the restive South, should have good knowledge on the cases they are responsible for. They should be trained to mediate a disagreement in a peaceful manner and educated about human rights. It is also necessary for them to be able to use the media to communicate with other sectors in the society and inform people of basic legal knowledge so that they learn to settle conflicts peacefully by themselves.

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