INDONESIA: Government Urged to Finish Plan for Women in Conflict Zones

Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Jakarta Post
South Eastern Asia
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security

Women from Indonesia's conflict zones called upon the government to finalize a national action plan to end the violence, sexual abuse and suppression suffered by many women in times of conflict.

The drafting of the national action plan has entered its 10th year, after the release of the plan's basis, United Nations Resolution 1325, in 2000.

The landmark resolution aimed to protect women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence as well as promote the active participation of women in conflict resolution.

Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Linda Gumelar said that gender-based violence during and after armed conflict denied women their human rights and must be stopped.

“Protecting and empowering women during and after conflicts impels gender equality, pays respect to human rights and safeguards human development and good governance,” she added.

Conflict has previously afflicted many parts of Indonesia. Violence has engulfed entire regions of the country for long periods of time, such as has happened in Aceh, Maluku, Papua and Central Sulawesi.

There has also been violence directed at religious groups, such as the Ahmadiyah Muslim sect.

Flower Aceh Foundation founder Suraiya Kamaruzzaman said it was high time the government finalized its plan, given the number of conflicts that have occurred.

Aceh has suffered unrest from conflict after the Indonesian Military (TNI) was deployed to suppress the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which was followed by military operations marked by human rights abuses, as many reports document.

“Don't forget, chances for implementing the plan still lie ahead, especially for the post-conflict situations,” she told The Jakarta Post.

She said that the government must incorporate initiatives that would grant women ample access to decision-making opportunities. The government must also couple its plans to bureaucratic reform for maximum capacity building, she added.

Sr. Brigitta Renyaan, who runs the Women Care movement with the leaders of other religions in Ambon, said that the plan's finalization would provide a platform for allegations of violence to be heard and processed legally.

Clashes between Christians and Muslims in Ambon erupted and escalated into widespread conflict in 1999.

“Women were victims in many ways,” she said, adding that in addition to violence, cases where law enforcement officers had abandoned local women with whom they had relationships was common.

Desti Murdijana, vice chairperson of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said that the release of a UN report titled The State of World Population 2010, which focused on women's crucial role in conflicts and crises, emphasized women's role in preventing future conflicts.

“This report supports the need for resolution 1325,” she said, adding that security reform plans were needed to support the resolution.

“The mechanisms in our defense system must be made more sensitive to the situations women are susceptible to in conflict areas,” she said, adding that all ministries must join forces to ensure the finalization and implementation of the plan.