civic responsibility
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civic responsibility

Two lawyer sisters and their Lawtoons: a comic series on laws for children


This article has been contributed by Milaap.org as a part of the fund raising campaign for Lawtoons.

When lawyers Kanan Dhru and her sister Kelly Dhru started their mission to improve India’s legal system, they were hit by the harsh reality that the everyday citizen does not fully understand or relate to the laws being passed, and were disconnected with the system.  The dynamic duo discovered a way to make these laws easy and fun to understand through Project Lawtoons.

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The sisters started working on legal reforms in India five years ago, when they founded the Research Foundation for Governance in India (RFGI). Kanan, a lawyer who has worked with the National Knowledge Commission in the Prime Minister’s Advisory Body came up with the idea of creating an easy-to-understand comic series for children about the laws in our country, in a meeting as part of the World Economic Forum in 2013.  Kanan’s sister, Kelly, who has been involved in research projects with organisations such as the World Bank, found the project worth executing. Together they formed a team to turn this idea into a reality.

Civics lessons in schools are generally passed off as theoretical and complex, with an element of being far removed from the very citizens it wishes to educate. The Dhru sisters thought of an interactive way to foster school students to get acquainted with their legal rights. The best way to connect children to the legal system was by presenting it in a way that appeals to them. This was when the idea of cartoons came about given its universal appeal and child-friendly nature. Lawtoons was developed as a series of comics on laws and rights.

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Lawtoons illustrates the laws and individual rights through inspiring cartoons, making it easier to understand. Through consultation with child psychologists, the content and design for Lawtoons was created bearing their target audience in mind. However, being an amalgamation of entertainment and education, Lawtoons has the potential to communicate with all age groups. The lack of legal awareness is often an impediment to empowerment of individuals. By addressing the need to create awareness about our laws, Lawtoons is now an excellent teaching-learning tool that educational institutions can adopt.

The team of Lawtoons, which consist of experts fromthe field of design and teaching, have made the comics more appealing with their valuable inputs. The focus of the series is on featuring legal elements like fundamental and human rights, rights of children, civic duties, and more.

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A first prototype of Lawtoons was developed and displayed to students from different socio-economic backgrounds in January 2014.  The response received from these students amazed the founders and academics alike, when they took a poll to measure students’ preference: most students preferred Lawtoons over their prescribed textbooks, with 70 per cent able to grasp the concept of the laws behind the comics. The first volume of Lawtoons covering the concepts of two fundamental rights–Right to Equality and Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression–was released in November 2014. It is through the book’s protagonist, Pugloo, that various concepts about laws and rights unfold. Pugloo has already garnered praise from his young readers.

The excitement around the first prototype has inspired the team to create a Lawtoons series. The founder sisters are now crowdfunding to finish the compendium. With the funds raised, Lawtoons will be available to children across the country through online and offline partners. The funds will also be used to create an interactive website and mobile application, which will put this legal innovation to further use.

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For children and young adults intimidated by the theoretically heavy subject of law and legal jargon, Lawtoons comes as an easy first step towards legal awareness. To know more about Kanan and Kelly’s fundraiser campaign, click here Lawtoons

The author Athira S.M has a passion to work for social development. She believes writing stories is the best way to stay sane in this crazy, busy world. She is a chocolate lover, dancer, and actor and dreams of travelling around the world.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.

 

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