1 Jun 2015

Cooks lawyer says free legal advice enables women to speak up

7:40 am on 1 June 2015

A Cook Islands lawyer says it is exciting to see women feeling empowered to speak up through having access to free legal advice.

A women's counselling centre, Punanga Tauturu, has launched a pilot programme which focuses on mediation services and early intervention for female domestic abuse victims.

The former opposition leader, Wilkie Rasmussen, is the first lawyer to have lent his services to the pilot programme.

He says currently there are two hours set aside each week to offer free legal help, but after seeing the demand, he will recommend more sessions be made available to women.

"The atmosphere created by the women that runs the scheme is warm, it makes the women that come forward seeking help feel included into the process. I found it to be exciting in the sense that these women feels a little bit empowered and they can speak and they can tell us what the problem is."

Wilkie Rasmussen says the pilot is enabling women to come forward, as those he's spoken to are hesitant to go directly to a lawyer.