Joan Patricia Walu Sudjiati Riwu Kaho, INDONESIA

About Joan

Joan obtained her Master’s degree in Law from Nusa Cendana University in 2015. After witnessing firsthand how the structure and culture of the legal system fail to provide a sense of justice for women and children, she qualified as an advocate in 2016. Her goal is to increase awareness and access to legal assistance for detained women and children so that they do not experience violence and can achieve justice.

The Challenge

While the Indonesian government provides access to legal aid for the poor, there is no specific protection for women. The legal aid law requires those seeking aid to provide a poverty certificate, which is issued to households. If a woman seeks legal protection from her husband, she does not qualify for legal aid if her husband does not qualify for aid, even if she does not have the means to independently hire an advocate.

The Innovation: “Assistance for Poor Communities (BPHN-UU Legal Assistance)”

The short-term goals of Joan’s project were to increase awareness of legal aid for women, coordinate efforts among law enforcement officers, advocates, NGOs, civil society, and victims to enhance the protection of women, and to ensure that those temporarily held in detention centers do not have their basic rights violated. The long-term goals were for women and children to access legal assistance for free and for an end to legal discrimination.

One of the successes of Joan’s project was its response to the legal needs of people with disabilities through the establishment of a special post for managing these cases. During the project, a group of paralegals was trained specifically on disability issues and supervised in their assistance of eight cases. Joan also organized a two-day legal assistance training specifically for people with disabilities, benefiting 37 individuals. The project led to the signing of several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between KBH APIK NTT and Indonesian detention centers, outlining continued collaboration on legal assistance for inmates, including women as perpetrators, disabled people, LGBT individuals, prostitutes, and housewives. Joan and her team of lawyers took on 38 additional cases involving women in conflict with the law, both as victims and perpetrators, 25 of which were handled entirely pro bono. An additional 93 women received legal consultations. Lastly, a radio podcast on Justice Makers and sexual violence against women reached a total of 831 beneficiaries.