Prior to her role at Justice Without Borders (JWB) as a Legal Fellow, Salsa didn’t know much about migrant domestic workers (MDW’s). When she joined, she jumped straight into the legal space and the world of cross-border litigation. The experience sparked her passion in advocating for domestic worker’s rights. Salsa was eventually hired as a Legal Officer and then promoted to JWB Indonesia’s Head of Office at the beginning of 2021.
I first joined JWB as a Legal Fellow, as it was a requirement for me as a law student. I’d always been very intrigued by JWB’s work, especially the way they optimize the private law to access justice for migrant workers. Previously, I had volunteered at other human rights organisations, but we had always used public law. It was a breath of fresh air to focus on private law instead. During my fellowship, I worked on a few cases and quickly became invested.I wanted to commit myself to the cause and support our clients. So when JWB offered me a position as a Legal Officer after I graduated, I immediately said yes!
I want to ensure that MDW’s can have complete access to justice, wherever they are. Indonesia is a country where legal infrastructure is still weak, so it’s not going to be easy. But I do think that with the current strategies JWB pursues, such as specialising in cross-border litigation, raising awareness and building the capacities of community paralegals, we’ll get there.
I’d have to say the people. Our team is full of lovely and passionate people and I think that’s one of our greatest strengths. My work also allows me to engage with our clients and grassroots communities, giving me a better perspective on the issues. I think that it is definitely important to listen and learn from people who are close to and/or experience the issues directly. It also keeps me inspired and motivated to do the work because I know how much it can help others.
Before I was a Fellow at JWB, I didn’t know anything about MDW’s. However, my time atJWB had been so inspiring that I decided to change my undergraduate thesis proposal to focus on workers’ issues. I think the work that we do is definitely directly related to my academic career since we’re tackling many uncommon legal problems and questions. However, we need to raise awareness on the issue first, especially in the academic world. That’s why I think the fellowship program JWB has established can bridge the gap between law students and migrant domestic worker issues.
I am grateful for the space JWB has given me to grow. My role here has given me a chance to develop various skills such as client engagement, stakeholder management and building trainees’ knowledge and capacities. There has never been a dull moment. I wouldn’t have expected that I’d get to go from being a Legal Fellow, who was totally unfamiliar with migrant worker issues, to becoming a Legal Officer who leads on cases, and now taking on the mantle of the Head of Office who overlooks operations and strategises to bring us closer to our goal. I need to thank the JWB team for blessing me with such insightful mentors and wonderful colleagues!
The most important thing is to get hands-on experience and directly engage with the affected groups you’d like to work with. You really need to get yourself out there because it really puts things in a different light. I was lucky to get a chance to do that as a Legal Fellow at JWB. If anyone’s interested in seeing what we do here at JWB, our door is always open!
Eva Maria Putri Salsabila, “Salsa”, is the Head of Office for JWB in Indonesia. She leads the Indonesia team in developing its case work and strategic legal research, as well as outreach and capacity building. Salsa graduated from the University of Indonesia with a Bachelor’s degree in Law. She has authored over 10 books, and her passion for writing and social issues spurred her interest in research. She has conducted research on migrant workers, child marriage, sexual violence, and legal aid, and has been invited by the University of Leiden to present her research based on her undergraduate thesis about access of information for women migrant workers during the pre-departure phase. During her time in university, she spent three years in the student executive board, conducting advocacy on human rights and social-political issues in Indonesia. In an effort to make her university a safer place, Salsa co-founded a crisis centre and hotline for sexual violence in her university.