Why extra-legal representation is critical to access to justice for migrant domestic workers

June 17, 2024
Category: Cases | Information
Natasya Fahira (Legal Officer, JWB Indonesia), Vivi Octavia (Senior Legal Officer, JWB Indonesia) and participants in the Train the Trainer Programme 2024

It takes a village to make justice happen across borders. Coordinating between different parties, clients, government agencies, pro bono lawyers, JWB strives to provide the best legal, logistical, and ancillary support for clients to pursue just compensation.

While one might assume the primary sentiment of these survivors of exploitations would be anger and a desire for justice, the reality is that these women are often preoccupied with concerns for their families, their responsibilities to support their loved ones, and their obligation to serve.

It is impossible to overstate the investment of time and skills required of the caseworkers at JWB and the frontline organisations we work with to guide a worker through the process of seeking justice.

Here’s some examples of the activities our Indonesian caseworkers pursue:

  • Spending time with the client to build trust and hear her story
  • Working with the client to build a case chronology – this can take weeks to pull together all the essential details
  • Helping the client find evidence and understand what is useful in a claim
  • Going to authorities on behalf of the client to extract essential records
  • Frequently traveling for eight hours across the country to assist a client in connecting with their pro bono lawyer
  • Translating the advice of the worker’s lawyer and helping her understand the advice in local terms
  • Providing a safe space for trauma-affected clients
  • Arranging for internet connections and access to stable virtual meeting platforms
  • Attending negotiations with the client to provide support, translations, and expertise on past cases
  • Continuous emotional support for the client to enable her to stay positive and patient and feel in control of the process
  • Connecting the client with other support services where needed

We honor the efforts of our own local caseworkers, Vivi and Natasya, as well as the tireless efforts of our colleagues at the International Pro Bono Alliance, Voice of the Free, Yayasan Banati, and SBMI to support migrant domestic workers through this immensely difficult process.