Activists: Indonesian Government Seems Don’t Understand The Purpose of CEDAW

During the 37 years of the CEDAW Convention, its implementation is still far from being expected. Indonesia still has a lot of homework to do. The report of the Indonesian delegation is considered to be concerning, so it is estimated that the concluding consent that will be received by Indonesia in November will become a serious recommendation.

On 28 and 29 October 2021, the Government of Indonesia is invited to attend a constructive dialogue with the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

On that occasion, the Indonesian delegation led by the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (Minister of PPA) submitted a report on the achievements and challenges in eliminating discrimination against women in Indonesia as the implementation of the ratification of the CEDAW Convention.

As an implementation, the ratification of CEDAW since 37 years requires the elimination of discrimination that underlies gender-based violence or the distinction between men and women. However, the implementation of CEDAW ratification is not without obstacles and challenges.

This year is the 80th session of the CEDAW committee discussing the progress and challenges of ratification going forward. Unlike the previous years, this time the CEDAW Committee opened a space for the public to be involved in official reporting submitted by member countries.

This was used by some civil society organizations such as the Indonesian Women Care Movement (GPPI), CEDAW Working Group Indonesia (CWGI), and observers of the issue of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (HKSR) to participate in overseeing reporting on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

GPPI Coordinator, Rita Serena Kolibonso assessed that the report submitted by the Minister of PPA in the constructive dialogue of the CEDAW Committee was far from what was expected. The report submitted is not in-depth and the government seems unprepared in this report.

“From the dialogue, the government still doesn’t seem to understand the purpose of CEDAW,” said Rita in her press statement on Saturday (30/10).

She regretted that previously, the GPPI, which represented elements of society such as human rights activists, advocates, academics, and various other elements of civil society, had submitted input from the summary of data in the field that described the current state of how CEDAW is being implemented in Indonesia. This GPPI step aims to involve as many elements of civil society as possible.

In addition to submitting alternative reports and responses to the CEDAW Committee’s list of issues to the Indonesian Government’s report, civil society also submitted an oral intervention on Monday (25/10) night. In this informal dialogue, five representatives of civil society from Indonesia and Komnas Perempuan were present.

In this constructive dialogue, the CEDAW Committee asked 23 questions to the Indonesian delegation. Several questions were repeated on the second day because the Committee was not satisfied with what the Indonesian delegation had said.

The issues highlighted by the CEDAW Committee include the handling of women during conflict, local regulations that discriminate against women, virginity tests during the recruitment process for TNI/Polri non-commissioned officers, and the government’s attitude towards polygamy.

Previously, in an informal dialogue with some civil society organizations, the CEDAW Committee submitted several questions which civil society answered in writing.

Among other things, “How many indigenous Papuan and West Papuan women sit in the legislature? What steps are being taken to address sexual exploitation among migrant workers? What are the types and forms of online gender-based violence? What is the transgender situation in Indonesia? How has the government responded to the psychosocial problems experienced by women with disabilities in policy?,” explained Rita.

Rita added that previously the GPPI had held eight public consultations related to the implementation of CEDAW in Indonesia, which included discussing gender-based violence in policies and its impact on women and girls; Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR) rights include harmful norms and practices for women; and Rural women, Indigenous women, and vulnerable women’s groups. And the results have been submitted to the government.

The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner from the Women’s Participation Institute, Adriana Venny, who was also present at the press conference, said that the government’s poor report in the CEDAW dialogue was because the government had not read the list of questions previously submitted by the GPPI.

“As a result, some achievements that have been successfully pursued by civil society do not appear in the report,”she said.

With such a bad report, she estimates that the Concluding consent that Indonesia will receive in November will be a serious recommendation.

The involvement of civil society in CEDAW reporting is a form of participation to oversee and complete government reports in various aspects. Venny added that the escort was important considering that there was a gap between the reported achievements and the implementation in the field.

“For example, the availability of safe houses. Likewise, sexual violence at the grassroots is an emergency, as is fundamentalism,” she explained.

Venny also highlighted the problem of the limited budget for women’s empowerment as a result of still combining women’s empowerment with child protection. She sees the need for separation of women’s empowerment so that the implementation of CEDAW works.

Another GPPI member, Budi Wahyuni, said that although civil society had submitted inputs, the government often only responded on the surface. Budi gave an example of recommendations related to the protection of reproductive health for women who recommended a legal basis for abortion for rape victims. The Ministry of Health responded by issuing regulations that he considered difficult to implement.

“There are no technical instructions on who will carry it out, by whom,” she said sadly.

Recommendations to the Government

Before the CEDAW constructive dialogue was held, the GPPI had submitted several recommendations to the government for improving the implementation of CEDAW in Indonesia which was stated by the GPPI in an alternative report that had been submitted to the CEDAW Committee.

The GPPI, among others, recommends that the Indonesian Government comprehensively socialize CEDAW to the public, stakeholders, and government elements down to the micro-level.

In her statement, Rita Kalibonso emphasized the high level of violence against women in marriage, family relations, and access to justice. She emphasized that the practice of gender-based violence that forces women to become victims, such as in polygamy, underage marriages, marriage arrests, and others, still occurs in Indonesia, especially for women with disabilities who often go unnoticed.

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, the government is asked to increase the provision of social assistance for women during the pandemic. According to GPPI records, the number of violence against women in the household, economic marginalization, exploitation, human trafficking has increased sharply.

During the pandemic, women’s burdens also doubled, making women more vulnerable to being victims of violence. GPPI asks the government’s commitment to revise the regulation on marriage and other regulations that still discriminate against women.

Regarding laws that are still discriminatory against women, the GPPI recommends that the government and legislative institutions revise the Draft Criminal Code, discuss bills that support gender equality, such as the Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence and the Bill on Gender Equality and Justice. The government is also asked to open the widest possible space for increasing the involvement of women on the political stage.

GPPI also urges the government to harmonize the Health Law with the government’s commitment to reducing maternal mortality with safe abortion. In particular, the Ministry of Health is asked to appoint a safe abortion service as mandated by the Minister of Health Regulation Number 3 of 2016 concerning Training and Implementation of Abortion Services for Indications of Medical Emergency and Pregnancy Due to Rape.

GPPI also recommends the government has to socialize comprehensive CEDAW to the community, stakeholders to the micro-level, because the public’s knowledge of CEDAW ratification is very minimal.

Opening the widest possible space for increasing women’s involvement in the political arena also provides guarantees for all Indonesian citizens to avoid acts of violence, especially violent and discriminatory practices carried out by state apparatus, as well as ensuring the safety of victims of violence through victim protection mechanisms. and witnesses. Open access to health services and information related to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights and integrate SRHR materials as an integral part of the compulsory school curriculum.

GPPI also demands the establishment of a comprehensive framework in dealing with gender-based violence, starting from prevention, reporting flow, to case handling by both non-governmental organizations and government institutions integrated with the P2TP2A program, as well as funding support for stakeholders.

The government is asked to ensure that procedures for identifying victims of trafficking in persons are carried out and increasing access of witnesses and/or victims to services and support according to their needs, as well as increasing the capacity of law enforcement officers (APH) and government officials on handling trafficking in persons, as well as implementing Law No. 18 of 2017 concerning the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers.

The government is also asked to include mechanisms and schemes for the protection of human rights defenders into the National Action Plan for Human Rights (RAN-HAM) and urges the government to review and revoke the omnibus law on the Job Creation Law which contradicts CEDAW.

The government is asked to guarantee the participation of indigenous women in any change in the function of customary land/forest which is strictly adhered to in the Indigenous Peoples Bill, and to ensure the stability of distribution and availability of drugs for people living with HIV, pregnant women with tuberculosis, prioritizing vulnerable groups, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.

All of these recommendations are expected to be able to boost the implementation of CEDAW in Indonesia.

Marina Nasution dan Reka Kajaksana


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