July 2012


Doctrine divides, Action unites

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A Mother’s Dream Becomes a Nightmare in Indonesia

Maspa Hasra

Rini is a young 25-year-old woman who lives in a village in the district of Sukesewu in Bojonogoro Regency in East Java Province of Indonesia. She and her husband Hammer have one daughter.

Wati is a neighbor in the village who often looks for people in Bojonogoro to work in Diperkejakan in Palu for a salary of 1,000,000 rupiahs (about US$117) per month.

Once Wati needed two people in Bojonogoro to work as housemaids in Palu. When Rini heard of this job offer, she was willing to work in Palu with Wati’s mother because of poverty and joblessness.

Rini thus went with Wati’s mother to Palu with a man named Yudianti, who is Wati’s relative. While staying in Palu, Wait’s mother paid for Rini’s food and accommodation. Wati’s mother told Rini though that she must work in order to pay her back the money later, and then Rini was brought to meet a house owner whose name was Safi who agreed to provide her with a job as a housemaid in his home.

Rini worked there for about two weeks, and she was often asked to go out with the house owner. One night he raped her and then dismissed her.

At that time, Rini had no job to pay back the money to Wati’s mother, but she was forced to return the money to her.

Consequently, she decided to serve guests—male guests—every night. Rini was paid 100,000 rupiahs (about US$12) per person whenever she served guests, but she received only half of this amount, or 50,000 rupiahs (about US$6) per person, because she had to pay for security, her meals and rented room and to repay the cost of the airplane ticket from Surabaya to Palu. When she was not able to work in the early morning of May 28, 2012, she ran away and took a bus to another place in order to escape.

She first asked for help from government officials, but they ignored her and didn’t want to assist her because she didn’t have money to bribe them to intervene. Based on this experience, she learned that she couldn’t rely on the government to help her.

She eventually tried to find local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are working as advocates for women involved in trafficking cases. Fortunately, she found two groups in Central Sulawesi to help her—Radar and the Coalition of Concerned Women of Palu, known locally as KPPA. She was taken directly to the office of KPPA and was provided with food and a place to stay for a few days. KPPA then helped to contact Social Services of Central Sulawesi Province to accommodate her temporarily in a shelter and later to repatriate her to her hometown.

On June 1, she was given money and a free ticket to fly back to her province of East Java by the social services agency. Her efforts to improve the life of her family resulted in many hardships and suffering for Rini. What began as a dream to improve the life of her family became for Rini a nightmare of misplaced trust, fear and violence.

* Maspa Hasra is a social activist in Palu, capital of the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi, working for the Coalition of Concerned Women of Palu, known by the Indonesian acronym of KPPA, in its unit devoted to advocacy against violence toward women and children.