Activists urge women to speak out on equality, violence

At Yogyakarta march, hundreds demand equality and protection.

By Yenny Herawati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Yogyakarta, Central Java

April 18, 2014
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Women in Indonesia still struggle to gain equality in the workplace, in education and politics-- and also face increasing incidents of violence and abuse.

  • Women march for equality in Yogyakarta on March 8th. The sign says:

    Women march for equality in Yogyakarta on March 8th. The sign says: "Indonesian women: brave, strong, smart and confident". [Yenny Herawati/Khabar]

That was the message of hundreds of women activists who marched in Yogyakarta to mark International Women's Day.

"We need our voices to be heard. We hope equality for women in Indonesia will inspire many other countries and also will encourage democratisation in Indonesia," Mari Suci, coordinator of the March 8th event, told Khabar Southeast Asia.

The day served as an important reminder for the government and all elements of society to provide fair and equal opportunities for women, said Mari, who works with the Indonesian Women Advocacy Circle (Lingkar Advokasi Perempuan Indonesia).

Women workers are prone to sexual abuse and salary discrimination, she said. "We hope there will be more Indonesian women aware of this. We want them to speak up and join us to assure that our demands will be heard by our leaders."

"Please speak up"

The National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan) recorded 279,760 cases of violence against women in 2013, about 63,000 more than in 2012.

Komnas Perempuan member Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said this alarming increase was due in part to the lack of legal protection for women. It does not reflect the true amount of violence since many incidents go unreported, she said.

"We hope our government will take some initiative to improve women's rights and protection. I encourage every woman to not be afraid to report any incident of violence. Please speak up," Yuniyanti told Khabar.

"By reporting any kind of violence, they are not only helping themselves but also helping others in the same situation."

Muhammad Husain Abdullah, a Muslim community leader in Sleman Yogyakarta, stressed the important role women play in family, community and country.

"It is very important for each woman to be part of our country's development. They are our foundation to build a strong country," he told Khabar.

West Java legislative candidate Lisdawaty Matakupan attributed increasing violence to declining moral values.

"We need to focus on law enforcement to stop any acts of violence against women and children. We also need to increase the ability of women: more women should be encouraged to finish their education," she told Khabar.

Reader Comments
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    • asamson
      April 19, 2014 @ 07:04:56AM
    • One's faith is not perfect if they do no protect the dignity of women. Restore Islam in this country and establish Islamic law. Nationalize all mines. The country should guarantee the safety of female workers and the poor without diminishing their integrity. For example, the gold mines in Freeport contain 1.2 billion tons of Gold and Uranium, of which the quantity is more than gold and more expensive. If every citizen were given 20 kilograms of gold, there would still be a lot left over, not to mention the gold in Newmont, Banyuwangi, Sumatra, etc. The rulers have no pity for poor women and allow them to work in other countries. This is the same as allowing the sale of women's vaginas while maintaining the ruse that they are heroines who provide remittances. I'm sorry, this country's women are sent abroad and when they arrive many are used for horseplay and some end up between life and death like someone giving birth. Many of these rulers have corrupted character. All female workers should be sent home from the countries they work in because women are the country's integrity. The mines in our country are more than enough to pay for women workers and the poor, our mines are even enough to pay for all of Southeast Asia. Our rulers are more afraid of the US and its cronies, letting them control and consume our country's mines, especially gold.

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