Advocates say protection for Indonesia's domestic workers still lacking

Source – January 16, 2022
Domestic workers protest in front of Labour Ministry in Jakarta demanding ratification of RUU PPRT – Undated (Suara)

Vitorio Mantalean, Jakarta – National Network for Domestic Worker Advocacy (Jala PRT) National Coordinator Lita Anggraini says that the number of domestic works (PRT) in Indonesia is quite large, yet the legal protections afforded to them are still lacking.

Based on a survey by Jala PRT and the University of Indonesia in 2015, the number of domestic workers in Indonesia stood at some 4.2 million. This total makes Indonesia the country with the second largest number of domestic workers after China.

"We have more than India with 3.6 million PRTs in 2015 and also more than the Philippines with 2.6 million PRTs in the same year. This year in 2022, there are perhaps 5 million (PRTs in Indonesia)", said Anggraini during a virtual discussion held by the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) faction at the House of Representatives (DPR) on Sunday January 16.

"This total of 5 million PRT indicates that PRTs are very much in demand [in Indonesia]", she continued.

Anggraini revealed that there are a series of problems experienced by domestic workers in Indonesia which are never revealed to the public.

This includes for example long working hours without holidays or social security, unlimited workloads and vulnerability to exploitation and violence.

This kind of exploitation, added Anggraini is even committed by employees with a medium- to high-economic status, such as foreign expatriates in Jakarta and employers in elite suburbs like Pondok Indah.

They are paid very low wages and sometimes not paid even though they have been given enticements at the start of their employment. Others are ripped off by PRT agents.

When they are sick they cannot access healthcare facilities because they lack money and are not listed as participants in the Social Security Management Agency (BPJS) premium assistance recipients (PBI).

Employers are free to carry out this kind of exploitation because of the lack of any laws to protect domestic workers.

Yet domestic workers with their large numbers play a very important role in the wheels of the economy. It is because their presence that many people are freed up from domestic duties and can work outside the home.

"The latest data which we have gathered for December 2021 found an average of 400 or so case of violence against domestic works occurred in a variety of forms, psychological, physical, sexual and social or trafficking", she said.

"Cases such as this are not known by the public because they work in the home, their access is restricted, they don't know how they should report it. In Medan [North Sumatra], there were some 112 PRT who were imprisoned by agents and several even died", continued Anggraini.

Stalled in parliament

The Draft Law on the Protection of Domestic Workers (RUU PPRT) has already been discussed since 2004 but there has been no result to this day.

Over a period of 18 years the law actually managed to be discussed in 2010 and was included in the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) until 2014.

In 2012 state funds were even used by DPR members too conduct a comparative study in Argentina and South Africa along with trials in Malang (East Java), Makassar (South Sulawesi) and Medan (North Sumatra).

Following this, the DPR's Commission IX working committee submitted a draft of the RUU PPRT to the DPR's Legislative Body (Baleg) but the discussions on the law ended there.

In 2020 a number of political party factions in Senayan – as the national parliament is known – again began fighting for the RUU PPRT and produced a new draft which was scheduled to be included in a plenary meeting for approval as a DPR draft law initiative.

To this day however, even after going through 76 revisions, the RUU PPRT has never been included in the agenda of a DPR plenary meeting.

"There are two factions from the big political parties, namely the PDI-P [the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle] and the Golkar Party who still reject the importance of the RUU PPRT, so to this day it has yet to be put on the agenda of a plenary meeting", said Anggraini.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jala PRT Sebut Perlindungan Negara Terhadap Pembantu Rumah Tangga Masih Kurang ".]