One of the most marginalised and socially excluded groups are poor single women — unmarried mothers, widows, abandoned and divorced women — who often head households with no legal recognition. In Indonesia, 55% of these women live below the poverty line, 40% are illiterate, a third are married before they are 16 and 78% of those divorced cite domestic violence as the cause. These women have little access to legal services and are largely unaware of their legal rights. The criminal justice system, mostly too remote for them to access, deters them even when they do report cases as police either fail to register the case, blame the woman for the crime or take no action. The result is impunity for perpetrators and a culture of complicity.
From 2015-2016, Sisters For Change worked in rural Bantul, Java, Indonesia, with a network of women-headed households. We chose to work in Bantul Regency, Yogyakarta, Java, due to the growing adoption of discriminatory by-laws targeting women and institutionalising gender inequality in the area. We worked with our partners to build their legal knowledge and capacity to speak out against violence against women in their local communities. We trained them as ‘Community Paralegals’ to assist victims in registering cases of violence and engaging with local authorities (police, village leaders, religious leaders and health centres) to improve justice outcomes and support for socially excluded women and girls. Read about our work in our report in partnership with PEKKA Bantul.