By Fiona Putri Hasyim
Risma is familiar with the harms that women can face in Indonesian prisons; in 2006, she was sentenced to 18 months incarceration after being caught with a small quantity of drugs. Today, Risma is a health and human rights activist: “I was one of the beneficiaries of an NGO peer education programme in the women’s prison. I was released early for good behaviour and immediately joined the NGO as a volunteer.”
Working as a peer educator, Risma met women who had used drugs and faced debilitating stigma. Unwilling to accept this marginalisation for herself or her peers, Risma set up phone support and counselling to assist women in standing up to fight for their health and rights. “I realised there were many of us.”
The phone calls became meetings, and as the meetings slowly grew, they became known as the Women Butterfly Community. Many — particularly women who had spent time in prison—were ashamed and found it difficult to discuss their traumatic experiences in person. “We cried listening to each other’s stories.”
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Thumbnail Flickr CC Sandra Strait