Activists say government polices, laws discriminate against women

Krjogya – March 8, 2012
Women activists commemorate IWD in Yogyakarta - March 8, 2012 (PM)
Women activists commemorate IWD in Yogyakarta - March 8, 2012 (PM)

Danar Widiyanto, Yogya – The ideals articulated during the momentum of International Women’s Day (IWD), which is commemorated each year on March 8, totally contradict the reality of women’s lives in Indonesia. Indonesian is also one of the few countries where the government fails to protect or provide welfare to women.

It is this phenomena that inspired scores of women from the Indonesian Women’s Movement (Gerakan Perempuan Indonesia, Gepari) in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta to hold an action demanding equality and welfare for women on Thursday March 8. The action began in the vicinity of the Abu Bakar parking area in Central Yogyakarta then proceeded to point zero at the central post office.

Action coordinator Fatum Ade said that every year IWD is commemorated in many countries, including Indonesia. But women are still oppressed and experience injustice in many sectors. Moreover the incidences of sexual violence and harassment that befall women are increasing day by day.

“Women are the one’s who are most vulnerable to violence and injustice. Moreover policies in a number of sectors, particularly the workplace, do not provide any support to women. Many companies do not permit [women to take] leave for menstruation, pregnancy or giving birth. Sexual harassment in the work environment still continues to take place”, she said.

The quality of women’s lives, continued Ade, is increasingly constrained by discriminative government policies. One of these is rape as regulated under the Criminal Code, where there is still only one article under the chapter on morality. Yet rape is clearly a crime.

“The other government policy that will worsen the quality of women’s lives is the planed fuel price hikes [in April]. This move will automatically give rise to oppression and poverty for low-waged workers and employees, the majority of which are women who will suffer even more”, she explained.

Gepari is demanding that IWD be used as a momentum for the government to provide legal guarantees and protection for women. The group is also calling on the government to revoke discriminative regulations and policies.

“Women have the right to obtain equality and prosperity in various sectors. Including guarantees of education, healthcare and protection at work, as well as opportunities to be involved in politics”, she asserted. (Aie)

[Nasib Perempuan Masih Memprihatinkan – Kamis, 8 Maret 2012. Translated by James Balowski.]