INDONESIA: The Endless Effort of Women Survivors

Jakarta Globe
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 20:00
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
Sexual and Gender-Based Violence
Reconstruction and Peacebuilding
Initiative Type: 
Training & Workshops

Do you know that there are many women survivors working hard to fight for justice and to find closure of their cases? Do you know that they work tirelessly in every level: From the grassroots, to the community and even national level?

The PeaceWomen Across the Globe Indonesia (PWAGI) organized a Women Survivor Learning Forum in Jakarta on May 7-8, 2012. The forum consisted and story-sharing sessions and lively discussions about issues closed to women from both Indonesia and overseas

The PWAGI is a volunteer organization which promotes peace -- with peace being defined in a broader term than just a war-less situation. Rather, peace is a realistic concept where women rights and justice are upheld by society. In 2005, 1000 PeaceWomen were collectively nominated for Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of hundreds of thousands other women survivors across the globe.

The PWAGI's Jakarta representative works closely with National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) to create capacity building platforms. The PeaceWomen meeting in Jakarta were attended by a range of women survivors, leaders and activists. Among the keynote speakers is the "Indonesian Avatar" Aleta Baun who struggled for over than twelve years against mining companies who intended to make damages in her homeland of Molo tribe in East Nusa Tenggara.

In her speech, Mama Aleta, as she was affectionally called, said women across the eastern part of Indonesia share same problems where violence toward them are at a high rate. She also mentioned the need for strong local and indigenous leaders who will support women's rights and bring the change they need.

Another keynote speaker is Maria Jose Lopez Souza, a sociologist from Brazil. Souza, who faced domestic violence in her own family, claimed that one woman is being beaten every 15 seconds in Brazil. She also said that one in four women in Brazil is a victim of sexual abuses since young age. There have been a great deal of cases solved in Brazil but many others have not been because victims have been silenced by their own family -- most perpetrators being husbands and fathers.

In Brazil, there is a special law that protects women from domestic violence: Maria da Penha Law. The name of the law is a tribute to the aforementioned woman activist whose ex-husband attempted to murder her twice, causing her to become paraplegic. The Brazilian government then provided about 400 police station for the defence of women.

Meanwhile, activist and PeaceWomen member from Aceh, Samsidar, mentioned the report from National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) in Indonesia which recorded 119,107 cases of violence against women in 2011 -- with 113,878 of them were of domestic violence.

Indonesia's Domestic Violence Law (Law No. 23/2004) which was fought for by women leaders, activists, and NGOs, for more than six years to be passed still leaves a gaping hole for the protection of women in the country. The law puts women in vulnerable positions and is not supported by decent infrastructure on ground level, considering wide geographic challenge in Indonesia. While women can report domestic violence to the police, the police who handle the cases have not been trained with a gender-sensitive approach -- which creates another traumatic process for women survivors.

Another woman survivor, Sumarsih, also shared her troubles. A mother of a student who had been shot in Semanggi 1998, Sumarsih voiced out her tireless effort to bring justice to light. She argued that the government promised many things to help solve the problem but have not fulfilled anything. For instance, the promised ad-hoc court on past human rights violences in Indonesia still has not been applied.

The fact that much efforts have been done by activists, organizations and communities but have not been communicated properly among them gives the Women Survivor Forum a chance for these participants to build solidarity, to embrace each other's tales, to give moral support and to plan for future collaboration works.

The PWAGI only wishes that the forum will independently continue and sustain in difficult times and tough transition process, especially in the settlement of many human rights cases in Indonesia.

As Maria Jose Lopez Souza said, we believe that in empowering the women survivors and decreasing the violence, men and women need to work together in partnership to design a culture of peace.