Gender justice

Since 2001 Oxfam has been working in partnership with APIK (NTB) – the Association of Indonesian Women for Justice – on justice for women and migrant workers in West Nusa Tenggara and Makassar.

Beauty Erawati, APIK's director, talking with the police.
Beauty Erawati, APIK's director,talks with the police, about the fight for women's rights in Indonesia.

West Nusa Tenggara covers two islands, Lombok and Sumbawa, and has a population of four million people, the majority of whom are Muslim. Women make up about 51 per cent of the population and generally have low levels of education. This area also provides more migrant workers than any other part of Indonesia.

With a population of 1.25 million, Makassar is the largest city on Sulawesi Island and is the capital of the South Sulawesi province.

APIK gives legal aid to women who are victims of violence and discrimination, and to Indonesian migrant workers overseas. They also work on human rights and women's rights issues.

APIK has established strong relations with local police through training, education and a women’s crisis centre at the Police Hospital in Mataram, on Lombok.

Campaigning for women’s rights

Campaigning and advocacy is increasingly becoming the key area of APIK’s work. APIK’s campaigning for women’s rights aims to address such practices as polygamy, abandonment of wives and children, the lack of joint heritage for women, and physical violence against women.

Divorce has become common place in West Nusa Tenggara; it is usually handled by officials and villagers who often make no provision for financial support for ex-wives and children. APIK only takes legal action in the most serious cases, which are often also very high profile. By doing this, APIK aims to set a precedent that will assist women in future cases.

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24-hour phoneline service to help victims of domestic violence

APIK staff working on the 24-hour phoneline support service for women suffering from domestic abuse.
APIK staff run a 24-hour
phoneline service to help
women suffering
domestic abuse.

APIK runs a 24-hour Hotline service that provides support and guidance to women and links them with outside help and support. Reports of domestic violence against women have been increasing in recent years. This rise reflects an increasing awareness among women of their rights and the need to report domestic violence to institutions that can help them.

APIK also manages the Outreach Centre Network, a network of women’s self-help groups run by women who themselves are survivors of violence, polygamy and divorce. The network aims to help and support other women in the same position.

Women supporting each other

Diana’s network is a typical example. Once a month, 10-15 women gather in her single-room home. These women all suffer from some form of domestic violence and abuse. Diana, herself a survivor, had been left destitute by her husband who divorced her for a younger woman. After mediation failed, APIK prosecuted and, in what became a high profile case, won a favourable settlement for Diana and her three children.

Diana now has a place to live and modest funds to support her children. The strength given to Diana through APIK’s work encouraged her to support other women in similar situations, despite the risks. The smashed windows at the front of her house are testimony to the anger some in the community feel against protecting women’s rights. Despite the dangers, however, the women demonstrate an indomitable spirit and draw strength from the support they give each other through the network.

Demonstrators wave placards and banners with "STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE NOW".

Justice for migrant workers

APIK also works with migrant workers, many of whom travel to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, often to take up work on construction sites or as domestic workers. Lombok provides more migrant workers than any other part of Indonesia. Workers travelling overseas to find work to provide for their families are frequently ripped off by fraudulent recruitment agents or abused by employers.

For many young women, the worst case scenario can mean being caught up in an illegal sex-trade. APIK offers to help abused migrant workers both through direct legal intervention as well as linking victims and their families to various support networks.

In one tragic case in East Lombok, Mohamed, an unemployed labourer, signed up to build temporary housing for the Haag in Saudi Arabia. The offer of work, further sweetened by a complimentary trip to Mecca, prompted him to borrow six million Rupiah (NZ$950) from a loan shark to book his place. Although he got as far as Jakarta, Mohamed never made it to Saudi Arabia.

The agent was a fake, a con-man who deliberately preyed on people desperately looking for work with the hope of lifting themselves and their families out of poverty. Instead, Mohamed has been left with a huge debt and no means of making the repayments. Now Mohamed has appealed for assistance and APIK is working to get justice for him and for the many others like him.

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