Marking 1928 Women’s Congress, activists highlight protection for women workers

CNN Indonesia – December 22, 2018
First Women’s Congress in Yogyakarta – December 22, 1928 (Repro)
First Women’s Congress in Yogyakarta – December 22, 1928 (Repro)

Jakarta – Commemorating 90 years since the first Women’s Congress in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on December 22, 1928, activists have highlighted the problems facing women workers.

These problems are related to the lack of legal protection and a work environment which is still patriarchal and makes things difficult for women workers.

Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Women) National Secretary Mutiara Ika Pratiwi says that that in practical terms there is almost no protection for women workers in Indonesia.

Pratiwi gave the example of the Draft Law on Domestic Workers (RUU PRT) which has still not been approved by the House of Representatives (DPR). Another example is the difficulties women workers face obtaining pregnancy leave.

“The facts [on the ground] that we found were that protection is absolutely minimal and neglect is extremely high such as pregnant workers being barred from employment or being sacked. These are the facts that we found”, she said at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) in Jakarta on December 22.

Related to this, Pratiwi said that there are a number of threats facing women workers who are pregnant. She said that around 50 percent of women workers are afraid that employers will discover they are pregnant.

“Meaning, there is indeed a real threat, this intimidation is real and felt by women workers in the workplace and the threat could grow”, she said.

Based on Perempuan Mahardhika’s research into garment workers in the Nusantara Bonded Zone (KBN) in Cakung, Jakarta, there were a number of cases of sexual harassment. The group found that 423 women workers out of a female work force of 747 working in the KBN Cakung had been victims of sexual violence.

The RUU PRT itself has yet to be enacted or agreed to by lawmakers since it was submitted to the DPR in 2004. This, according to Pratiwi has the potential to perpetuate sexual violence against domestic workers. (bin/pmg)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Aksi 90 Tahun Kongres Perempuan Sorot Perlindungan Buruh”.]