Adi Sucipto, Gresik – As many as 15 people from the Gresik chapter of the Preparatory Committee for the National Liberation of Unity or KP-Papernas demonstrated at the Gresik Regional House of Representatives in East Java on Wednesday December 20. They were demanding that the government undertake a program to improve the people’s welfare, in particular for women and children.
The protesters were demanding free education and healthcare, quality clinics for mothers and children that are free and easy accessed. The demonstrators also rejected discrimination and exploitation against women. No less important are guarantees to meet the nutritional needs of children, the provision of quality sanitary facilities for the people and a reading and writing program for the illiterate.
Action coordinator Anang Zakaria said that education and healthcare must be understood as the basis for the advancement of human resources and the nation. Unfortunately, women are precisely the group that has become a second priority in the provision of education and healthcare services. As a consequence women are venerable to violence, discrimination, exploitation and human trafficking.
Another protester, Anita, added that every two hours in Indonesia a women dies because problems during pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal complications. The mortality rate for women in Indonesia is the highest in Asia at 20,000 per year or 300 deaths per 100,000 births.
The conditions for children are also no better as every minute 20 children under five or 10.6 million children a year die because of malnutrition.
The spread of the HIV/AIDS virus has also entered the general population infecting mothers and children. More than 6.5 million women in Indonesia are at risk of infection or spreading HIV/AIDS. As of 2006 it is predicted that 4,360 children have been infected with HIV/AIDS and half have died. Without intervention it is estimated that 3,000 children a year will be born with HIV/AIDS.
“Meanwhile data from the Department of Education indicates that the illiteracy rate is as high as 15,414,211 people and out of this total 68 percent are women. So poverty is not the cause of the poor access to education and healthcare but because the services are exclusive, expensive and commercialised”, said Anita.
According to Anita, the government must allocate 20 percent of the budget for education, particularly for women. The means to carry this out would be through the nationalisation of industry to support education and healthcare services for women and children. “The trade in women and children or trafficking and expiation of women must be eradicated”, she said.
[Translated by James Balowski.]