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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The Domestic Violence Act provides that various services be offered to victims or witnesses of domestic violence, including that they be provided with health care and taken to a safe house or an alternative dwelling. Although government-sponsored and NGO-run crisis centres and shelters providing support and secure accommodation for domestic worker victims of violence are available in Jakarta and other major cities they are not widely available in more isolated areas, especially outside Java. There are also only a limited number of hospitals which have expertise in dealing with violence against women, especially outside major cities. Health providers Amnesty International met in Jakarta explained that currently treatment and counselling are available for free in some hospitals for victims of domestic violence. Although these are positive steps, Amnesty International is concerned that the limited provision of the services required by victims of domestic violence may mean that many domestic workers do not have access to these services. Domestic worker victims of domestic violence may also be impeded in accessing these services due to their geographical isolation, or may simply not know that the services exist.

Amnesty International recommends the following to the Indonesian authorities:
· Courts must employ all relevant provisions available in the Witness Protection Act and the Domestic Violence Act to minimise the trauma and fear experienced by victims and witnesses, and to provide appropriate protection for victims and witnesses;
· Ensure that treatment and counselling services for victims of violence against women are available in hospitals and other medical institutions throughout the country, and that these services are well publicised and accessible to domestic workers.

3. Discrimination against women and girl domestic workers in the field of employment (Article 11)

In its 2007 report on women domestic workers, Amnesty International compiled information on a number of aspects whereby Indonesia does not fulfil its duty to protect these women from discrimination in the field of employment.

Women domestic workers are not protected by current legislation safeguarding workers’ rights, in particular the 2003 Manpower Act (No.13/2003, Undang-Undang tentang Ketenagakerjaan). The Manpower Act itself discriminates against domestic workers - virtually all women and girls - and leaves them without legal protection of their workers’ rights, such as reasonable limitation on working hours, remuneration adequate to secure a life with dignity, and standards providing for rest and holidays. It results in women and girl domestic workers living and working in abusive and inadequate conditions.

Domestic workers often work very long hours and are allowed little or no rest. The workers interviewed by Amnesty International worked an average of 70 hours a week, but many worked a lot more. The majority of domestic workers do not have a day off during the week. Many domestic workers are not permitted to take holiday leave, including days off to observe public holidays. Despite these very long hours of work, with little rest, domestic workers frequently report that their employer has withheld their salary, often for months at a time, and, even more frequently, has paid them significantly less than was agreed at the time of employment. Even the agreed salaries are usually much less than the minimum wage in Indonesia. Many domestic workers also reported severe restrictions to their freedom of association. Some are prevented from joining meetings and other social events outside the home.(23)

3.1 Lack of legal protection under national legislation

Manpower Act