Ester Ahaswasty Day, INDONESIA

About Ester

Ester is a lawyer in Indonesia with over 20 years of experience. In 2011, she co-founded the local NGO LBH APIK NTT, where she now serves as the Coordinator of the Legal Services Division. The organization’s goal is to provide legal services and to create policy changes that safeguard the rights of women and children. Ester handles cases involving domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, divorce, and employment disputes.

The Challenge

Legal assistance is guaranteed for financially disadvantaged individuals in Indonesia under Law No. 16 of 2011 concerning legal aid. However, those seeking assistance must provide a letter from the relevant authority as proof of limited financial resources. Since men traditionally serve as the heads of households, a family’s poverty level is usually measured by the husband’s income. This creates serious problems for victims of domestic or sexual abuse who need legal assistance against their husbands or parents. These women and children neither have independent funds for a lawyer nor qualify for legal assistance because they are technically part of a household that is not classified as low-income, even though they do not have access to their abuser’s income.

The Innovation: “Legal Assistance, Gender Justice, and Women’s Leadership”

Ester’s project aimed to increase awareness of detainees’ rights and available legal aid among women and children, enable coordination between legal aid lawyers and law enforcement, and ensure that there are no human rights violations in prison. During the project, 100 women received pro bono legal consultations and information about their rights. Ester and her team conducted 15 monitoring visits to detention centers and handled 40 cases of women in conflict with the law, covering both the police stage of investigation and the court stage of proceedings. In addition to providing legal aid, Ester organized five separate legal clinic sessions to educate women and children about their rights, reaching a total of 141 participants. After attending these sessions, participants understood the procedures for accessing legal aid, including how to report their cases to LBH APIK NTT.