Against Class Bias in Discussion of Domestic Workers Protection Bill, Domestic Workers Launch Pot ‘Bombs’

Thousands of videos of “Pot-banging for 18 times” also called with “Pukul Panci 18 Kali” by domestic workers throughout Indonesia were uploaded en masse on social media accounts to knock the consciences of members of the House of Representatives (DPR) to immediately discuss the bill for the protection of domestic workers.

After gathering support from students, academics from ASWGI (Indonesian Women and Gender Studies Association), and PSGA (Center for Gender and Child Studies), the Civil Coalition for The Protection of Domestic Workers Bill (RUU PPRT) again held a Webinar to call for the ratification of the RUU PPRT.

Present at the event which was held on Sunday (9/1/2022), religious leaders represented their respective organizations, namely KH Zulfa Mustofa (PBNU), Rohim Ghozali (Secretary of the PP Muhammadiyah Legal and Public Studies Institute), Pdt. Gomar Gultom, M.Th (Chairman of PGI), Father Eka Aldianta OCARM (Chairman of the Justice and Equality Commission of KWI) RM Miswanto (Secretary for Religion and Spirituality of PHDI), Liem Lillyani Lontoh (Chairman of Matakin DKI), and Naen Soeryono (Chairman of MLKI).

In their speech, they said that all religions do not justify discrimination against humans for any reason. All religious people are also obliged to humanize humans without exception.

This webinar suggested several recommendations, one of which was that all representatives of religious leaders present would send letters addressed to the House of Representatives (DPR) and the President. The President was asked to endorse the discussion of the RUU PPRT, as he did with the Bill on the Crime of Sexual Violence.

Religious leaders also asked the state to be present to protect domestic workers by immediately ratifying the bill for the protection of domestic workers into law.

After listening to presentations from religious leaders, hundreds of participants in the webinar guided by the coordinator of the civil society movement for the RUU PPRT, Eva Kusuma Sundari, together hit the pot 18 times as a symbol of 18 years of struggle for the RUU PPRT, which has been proposed since 2004.

“We hope that the voices of religious leaders and the voice of the symbol of the people’s voice can melt the frozen conscience of the country’s leaders to side with about 6 million domestic workers to get the state’s protection rights for their fate as poor and excluded people,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari.

The committee also played 9 collages of 1000 short videos sent from all over the country which also hit the pot for 18 times. Thousands of videos of this pot-banging action were uploaded simultaneously on Sunday (9/1/2022) demanding the discussion of the bill for the protection of domestic workers by carrying the hashtag #SahkanRUUPPRT.

Class Bias

There are some reasons why the discussion of this bill has been delayed for so long in the DPR. One of them is the class bias among policymakers.

“Many employers treat their domestic workers (PRT) very well, but when asked to support the passage of the Domestic Worker Protection Bill, they just don’t. This is because they don’t want their domestic workers to be equal to them,” said Eva, who also serves as the Director of the Sarinah Institute, in a discussion before the movement was launched.

She added that there was a wrong perception of the bill for the protection of domestic workers. One of them is the loss of the spirit of mutual cooperation or ‘gotong royong’ that has been applied in the working relationship between employers and domestic workers or there will be a spike in wages if this regulation is passed.

The former legislator from PDIP emphasized that this concern should not exist. Because one of the principles of drafting this bill is mutual cooperation and humanity.

Coordinator of the National Domestic Worker Advocacy Network (Jala PRT) Lita Anggraini said that policymakers who have domestic workers in their homes, instead take the attitude of employers in addressing this matter.

“So there is a conflict of interest. They represent themselves more as employers, rather than as representatives of the people who have to protect the underprivileged such as domestic workers and employers from bad practices,” she said.

Titik Rahmawati, an expert on gender equality who was also present, said that this rejection was due to the unpreparedness of some members of the community that there would be rules governing their domestic affairs.

“If they were aware of true gender justice, they would not think like that. Those who are already aware of gender will not view the domestic workers they employ in a lower position but place them as partners,” she said.

Domestic Worker in Islam

A member of the NU Qanuniyah Commission, Nyai Hj Badriyah Fayumi, said that the bill on the protection of domestic workers is important to give recognition to domestic workers so that they have a legal umbrella for protection. This form of protection includes, among other things, a flexible work contract, which is based on an agreement with the principles of mutual consent and dialog.

“The important thing is that the work contract explains the rights and obligations,” she said.

She added that during the Prophet’s era, the issue of khodim or domestic workers had been resolved. So it is ironic that now there are still people who question or reject this problem.

Complementing Nyai Badriyah’s explanation, a member of the Qanuniyah Commission, H Aniq Abdullah explained that the NU Central Board or PBNU’s decision to support the ratification of the Domestic Workers Protection Bill was based on the verses of the Qur’an and the views of the scholars contained in mu’tabar books.

In the book Mughnil Muhtaj for example, it is explained that presenting a servant is one of the husband’s obligations in providing a living for his wife. However, sometimes these servants are voluntary, some are contracted for a certain wage (ijarah). Therefore, servants in this household are classified as ajir, people who receive wages.

Quoting a hadith, Aniq added that the relationship between the servant and the owner of the house must be based on the principle of kinship. Where the relationship between workers and employers must be based on a spirit of brotherhood.

In addition, Islam also prohibits the exploitation of domestic workers. So there must be a clear time and duration of the contract. Domestic workers should also not be sued for compensation for damage due to their work unless it is found that there is negligence in it.

“In addition, there must be clear wages and the right to carry out worship,” explained Aniq.

Since it was proposed in 2004, it was only in 2010 that this bill entered the discussion stage at Commission 9 of the DPR. During 2011 to 2012, the Manpower Commission of the DPR has researched in 10 regencies/cities, public tests in 3 cities, and comparative studies in two countries. In 2013, the draft bill was finally submitted to Baleg.

However, entering the 2014-2019 DPR term, this bill seems to have disappeared and has only been added to the Prolegnas waiting list. Hope arose when in July 2020, the Bill on the Protection of Domestic Workers was finished being discussed in the Legislation Body and entered the Deliberative Body (Bamus). Finally, the Bamus meeting in December failed to bring this bill to a plenary session to become a DPR initiative bill.

Eight factions support this bill, while two factions of the Golkar Party and PDIP do not agree that this bill is brought to the plenary session.

Mulat Esti Utami dan Marina Nasution

Wakil Pemimpin Redaksi dan Managing Editor

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