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

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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That women and girls in Indonesia start work at such an early age clearly violates international treaties to which Indonesia is a state party. In 1999, Indonesia ratified ILO Convention No. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment, and declared the minimum age for employment in the country to be 15 years old.(13) Although, according to the declaration which Indonesia made upon ratifying that Convention, free and compulsory education should be guaranteed in Indonesia until the general minimum age of employment, which is 15, (14) an estimated 1.8 million children of primary school age (7-12 years old), and 4.8 million children age 13-15 years, remain outside schools.(15)

Amnesty International recommends the following to the Indonesian authorities:
· Ensure that the law explicitly prohibits the employment of children below the age of 15 as domestic workers;
· Take measures to ensure that education is free and compulsory for all until the age of 15 years old;
· Take measures to ensure employers respect domestic workers’ enjoyment of the right to education;
· Take positive measures to enable and assist domestic workers to enjoy the right to education.

2. Violence against women domestic workers by non state actors which the State has failed to prevent or punish with due diligence (General Recommendation 19)

In its report entitled "Exploitation and abuse: the plight of women domestic workers" (AI Index: ASA 21/001/2007), Amnesty International highlighted cases of physical, sexual and psychological violence against women and girl domestic workers in Indonesia. Cases were documented in which domestic workers reported being sexually harassed or raped by their employer. Many domestic workers who live with their employer do not have their own room to sleep in, or their room does not have a lock, or sometimes even a door.
Domestic workers report being subjected to physical violence, such as being beaten with a stick, a broom, or an iron bar. In some cases domestic workers have been killed by their employers. In May 2006, a man was arrested for "torturing to death" a 20-year-old domestic worker in his employment.

Such cases of abuse are under-reported to the police, mirroring a pattern which is prevalent in cases of violence against women in Indonesia, and rarely reach the public eye. (16) Isolated from their family and friends, women domestic workers risk losing their jobs if they speak out, a risk most of them do not feel in a position to face. Their fear, coupled with the failure of government authorities to protect domestic workers’ rights and to prevent, investigate and punish abuses committed against them leaves much of the violence and other abuses perpetrated against such women and girls in the shadows.

2.1 State failure to prosecute cases of violence against domestic workers