Indonesia: Briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Women and girl domestic workers

Report
January 1, 2011

Indonesia: Briefing to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Women and girl domestic workers

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Most adult women domestic workers Amnesty International met appeared to have little or no knowledge of their sexual and reproductive rights which can be defined as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being with regard to a person’s sexuality and capability to reproduce, including the rights to: access sexual and reproductive health services; seek, receive and impart information in relation to sexuality and reproduction; and sexuality education.

They often replied ‘I don’t know’ when asked what they knew about women’s health, family planning and safe sexual relationships. They did not appear to know anything about sexually transmitted diseases and how to protect themselves against them. Nor did they seem to know about contraception methods and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. When questioned about their sexual and reproductive rights, many responded: "dua anak cukup" ("no more than two children"), echoing former President Soeharto's family planning policy of the 1960s and 1970s to decrease birth rates in Indonesia. However, few seemed to know how to access relevant sexual and reproductive health services. Amnesty International is concerned that the Indonesian government fails to provide domestic workers with adequate access to information and services on sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, as well as on contraception methods. This lack of knowledge and information may well place women and girl domestic workers at greater risk of maternal mortality, unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancy.

According to a survey conducted by the Demography Institute in 1999 in four provinces (East Java, Central Java, West Java and Lampung) and cited in Indonesia’s report to the Committee, 61% of women and girls aged between 15 and 19 years old in Indonesia had unwanted pregnancies.(34) Twelve per cent of them underwent abortion and 70 percent of those performed the abortion by themselves.(35)In Indonesia, abortion is authorized by law under strict circumstances. It is only allowed if it is performed by official health practitioners to preserve a woman’s life or health. Otherwise, it is severely punished by law.(36) The periodic report to CEDAW also acknowledges adolescent reproductive health problems, including HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, and a high rate of maternal morbidity and mortality, as issues of particular concern.(37)

The Indonesian government has set up service delivery points that provide counselling to adolescents on sexual and reproductive health, and disseminated an education package for adolescents through schools, universities, out of school programs and forums for peer education and parents. Programs have also been undertaken to provide information on sexually transmitted diseases in family planning and maternal health programs.(38) Despite these efforts, Amnesty International is concerned that these actions may not reach women and girl domestic workers, as they live in isolated environments and do not have access to public forums.

Amnesty International has recommended to the Indonesian government that a large scale education program on sexual and reproductive rights be undertaken to ensure that domestic workers have full access to information on family planning and contraceptives, forced marriage, early marriage and pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, in light of the vulnerability of women and girl domestic workers to gender-based violence including rape, sexual harassment and trafficking. Information about sexual and reproductive rights is important to enable victims of sexual abuse to better understand what has happened to them and where to obtain medical services and other forms of support.

Amnesty International recommends the following to the Indonesian authorities:

· Devise an education programme on sexual and reproductive rights to provide domestic workers with access to information on family planning and contraceptives, forced marriage, early marriage and pregnancy, the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

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