DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN STILL WIDESPREAD
Concrete achievements and breakthroughs to protect victims
We have just concluded a successful decade-long legal aid program that significantly strengthens the local justice sector and fosters improved access to justice for Timorese, especially women. Still, domestic violence persists in this fragile democracy, requiring fresh, original thinking. To that end, our goal is to ensure access to justice for women and to link legal aid partners with gender-based violence networks. We supported the provision of legal assistance for 536 legal and paralegal cases, and connected an additional 576 cases with paralegal programs of our local partners; most of these cases were women. The Foundation provided eight legal aid lawyers with scholarships to undertake related training, established the very first women's legal aid organization in Timor-Leste, and published groundbreaking research on women's legal needs. Our findings revealed a multitude of interlocking issues women experience when attempting to access assistance in Timor-Leste, including: a preference for resolving issues locally, even against the victims' wishes; uneven responsiveness of the police; lengthy court processes; and the lack of social support structures if a woman chooses to leave a violent relationship. The findings provided crucial insights for policymakers and others working in the areas of service provision, policy formation, and legislative frameworks.