Ester has over 20 years experience as a practicing lawyer, and in 2011, she co-founded local NGO, LBH APIK NTT, and is now the Coordinator of the Legal Services Division. The goal of the organization is to both provide legal services and create policy changes that serve women and children. She handles cases of domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, divorce, and employment disputes.

The Challenge
Legal assistance is guaranteed for the financially disadvantaged in Indonesia by Law No. 16 of 2011 concerning legal aid. However, those seeking assistance must provide a letter issued by the relevant authority as proof of low economic status. Because men traditionally serve as the head of the household while women work at home, a family’s poverty level is usually measured by the husband’s income. This poses serious issues for victims of domestic or sexual abuse who need legal assistance against their husbands or parents. These women and children neither have the independent funds for a lawyer nor do they qualify for legal assistance because they are technically a member of a household that is not low-income, even though they themselves do not have access to their abuser’s income.

The Project
“Legal Assistance, Gender Justice, and Women Leaderships”

This project will increase awareness of legal assistance, enable coordination between legal aid lawyers and law enforcement, and ensure that there are no human rights violations in prison.

Law enforcement does not fully understand the legal protections provided to financially disadvantaged people and women and children do not understand their rights. Therefore, this project will work with the Regional Police Department and the Regional Office of Law and Human rights to ensure all parties are aware of and comply with the rights afforded to women and children. Additionally, many women experience psychological violence during the police investigations process because victim-blaming questions are often used, and the police should change their interrogation tactics.

Updates September 2021:

Ester began her project by meeting with representatives of the regional and district police in Kupang to explain her project and the work of IBJ, with the aim of facilitating access to clients. She began providing legal assistance to women in conflict with the law, taking cases both from the police stage of investigation, and those already at the court stage of proceedings.

She has since conducted two separate legal clinic sessions in Oesapa district, Soe city, and taken on a number of cases as a result.