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.