of rural women in Bantul, Indonesia are the primary family wage-earner

1 in 4

women in rural villages in Bantul have no say in household decision-making

1 in 5

women in Bantul are unaware that rape and domestic violence are criminal offences


In Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, social and gender equality is hard to find. Despite recent strong economic growth, 1 in 10 currently live below the poverty line and 1 in 4 are classed as near poor or vulnerable to falling back into poverty at any time (Asian Development Bank 2015). The hardest hit — in terms of reduced access to food, health, education and employment — are women and girls, who make up 70% of those living in poverty and, in addition to poverty, suffer from high levels of violence and discrimination on a daily basis.


In 2015, the Indonesian National Commission for Violence against Women recorded a 10% increase in reported cases of violence against women and girls nationwide. Research has shown high prevalence of violence against women and girls in villages where cases rarely see any legal follow up due to social stigma, fear, silencing of victims, lack of legal access, and/or ‘community mediation’ efforts where parents and perpetrators are encouraged to resolve cases privately. The result is continuing impunity for perpetrators and a culture of community complicity in failing to respond to crimes against women and girls.


From 2016-2017, Sisters For Change worked in rural Bantul, Indonesia, with a micro-finance organisation that supports rural women living below the national poverty line (currently set in Indonesia at $0.76 per day versus the World Bank’s poverty line measurement of $1.90 per day). Sisters For Change worked to build the legal knowledge and capacity of these women to help them challenge the violence and abuse that blights their lives. In order to deliver lasting change in how cases are dealt with — de-stigmatising the victim, effective investigation, proper medical examinations, and delivery of victim and witness protection — we worked with our partner to build community support networks through active engagement with village and religious leaders, health centre staff, police officers and local religious department officials. In addition, we worked directly at the community level to challenge the social acceptance of violence against women and girls by inviting men and boys to join in discussions on the subject and be part of the movement for social change. Read more about our work in Indonesia in this report.

15 million

adolescent girls aged 15-19 worldwide have experienced forced sex (rape)

1 in 4

of 19-year-old girls are mothers or pregnant with their first child in Kulonprogo, Indonesia


of girls in Kulonprogo, Indonesia, are subjects of child marriage


Violence against girls — including sexual violence, child abuse, incest and online grooming — is strongly on the increase globally. The Commission for the Protection of Indonesian Children recorded a 15% national increase in 2015 but in certain areas of the country, the rates are escalating much more dramatically. In Yogyakarta, Java, for example, the Yogyakarta Agency for the Empowerment of Women & Society saw a 250% increase in registered cases in 2015. In 2016, the issue reached boiling point when a huge social media campaign led to public protests in outcry against the failure of public authorities to take adequate action in the case of a 14-year-old girl called Yuyun who was brutally gang-raped and murdered by a group of 14 boys and men in Bengkulu, Sumatra.


In addition to violence, girls (especially in rural areas) face huge barriers to their rights in the form of early marriage, forced pregnancy and social stigma that fails to deal with violence and abuse of girls within the family. Indonesia has one of the highest rates of underage marriage in the world and the second highest in ASEAN after Cambodia: nationally 5% of girls aged 10-14 are married and 4% have sex before they are 13. Births in early marriage are a key reason behind the worsening maternal mortality ratio in Indonesia — today the rate is 359 deaths in every 100,000 births, an increase of 61% since 2007. Lack of education in sexual and reproductive health and rights further exacerbates the problem, together with both a lack of accessible birth control and access to safe abortion. The Penal Code and Law on Population and Family Development No.59/2009 states that abortion is a crime and contraception is only for married couples and by permission of the husband.


From 2016-2017, Sisters For Change partnered with Indonesian NGO IHAP to deliver a specially designed programme for 14 to 18-year-old below-poverty-line girls in Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta. We worked with our partner to empower girls with knowledge of human rights and domestic laws combatting violence against girls, and to develop their leadership, life skills and social capital to encourage them to stay in education, challenge community attitudes that discriminate against them and support them to achieve their full social, economic and political potential.