Luqman Hakim, Yogyakarta – An alliance of women’s groups in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta held a peaceful action at the zero kilometre point in front of the central post office on Friday March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2019.
The alliance is made up of the Yogyakarta Women’s Network (JPY), the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH), the University of Gajah Mada Indonesian Women’s Secretariat (Srikandi), the Indonesian Islamic University (UII) Srikandi, the Islamic Student Association (HMI) and the Muhammadiyah Student Association (IMM).
“This momentum needs to be celebrated so that the women’s struggle will always exist and continue. So it will not stop at just one point”, said action coordinator Meila Nurul Fajriyah during a break in the demonstration.
The protesters brought a number of banners with various demands and statements on them such as “Stop Sexual Crimes”, “Immediately Enact the RUU PKS [the Draft Law on the Elimination of Sexual Violence]”, “My Body is Not a Guardian of Morality” and “Eradicate Patriarchy Everywhere”.
According to Fajriyah, the problems being faced by women have always existed, and have even grown over time ranging from sexual violence to discriminating against women’s rights.
She said that sexual violence is still a serious problem at the moment which continues to claim many women victims in Indonesia.
Based on data from the Commission for Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), 406,178 cases of sexual violence against women were reported and dealt with in 2018. This is an increase on the previous year when there were 348,466 cases.
“The upward trend in sexual violence is still quite high because the pattern is continuing to develop. Before it was limited to rape and KDRT [domestic violence], now it’s entered the sphere of the internet and [social] media. Women can be stigmatised and exploited through [social] media”, said Fajriyah, who is also active with LBH Yogyakarta’s research division.
Because of this therefore, women activists at the rally in Yogyakarta are demanding that the House of Representatives (DPR) immediately ratify the RUU PKS.
In addition to this, she continued, the action is also demanding protection for women workers in the form of regional bylaws or legislation, whether they work in companies, are domestic workers or street sellers.
“Protection should not just address the workers themselves but also protect their economic [well being]”, she said.
Fajriyah hopes that all women will have the courage to fight for their rights and dignity. And wherever they are, she hopes they will be conscious they are not just objects.
“All women have their own sphere of struggle. Those who are in the home, struggle in the home, but what’s clear is they have one goal and are united in struggling for dignity, rights and equal access”, she said.
JPY activist Ika Ayu meanwhile said that in many cases of violence against women it is the women who are in fact expected to change or improve their behaviour in order to avoid sexual violence.
According to Ayu, the stigma or stereotype that women are in the wrong in cases of sexual violence often emerges because of the legal system as well as the social constructions that develop in society which still need to be improved.
“If these kinds of stereotypes or stigma against women are abolished, I think it could it could generate a power for women”, said Ayu.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Perempuan Yogyakarta peringati Hari Perempuan Internasional di Titik Nol”.]