América Joaquina Romualdo Carcamo
Fellow Since 1999
Comité 25 de Noviembre
This profile was prepared when América Joaquina Romualdo Carcamo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
América helps victims of domestic violence seek legal action to end their abuse by transforming an ineffective justice system into a responsive solution for protecting women. Drawing on her experience in the feminist movement and law circles, América is bridging the gap between women's groups and the law to create a system, independent of government or political institutions, to monitor and follow through on cases of domestic violence. Her approach has three components: strengthening the efforts of citizen organizations to better assist victims of domestic violence; training judges, lawyers, and judicial functionaries; and identifying and denouncing the failure of the justice system to uphold and apply the law. As the first step, América teaches women's organizations how to access the necessary resources to seek legal action for their cases. She then trains them how to monitor judicial rulings for the application of anti-domestic violence laws that are largely ignored. Finally, she provides them with strategies for follow up on cases, including publicly denunciating failures of the judicial system to uphold the law. To ensure a positive transformation of the judicial system, América is coordinating with judicial ministries to train judicial functionaries, lawyers, and judges how to recognize the needs of domestic violence victims, to identify instances where their own practices or the judicial system has failed, and to apply anti-domestic violence law in a timely and equitable way. Rather than simply encouraging women to come forward to seek justice against domestic violence, América is giving women the tools to ensure that justice is achieved. Through public pressure on lawyers and judges, citizens are able to hold the judicial system accountable for applying the law. Through denunciations, citizen groups are generating jurisprudence regarding domestic violence cases, influencing the way lawyers and judges invoke and apply the law. Together with ongoing training for judges, police officers, and lawyers, the process leads to setting precedents that contribute to increased respect for domestic violence law and credibility of the justice system overall.