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Workers commemorating IWD in Jakarta demand end to sexual harassment and violence against women

BBC Indonesia - March 8, 2017

Almost 1 thousand women workers from the IndustriALL Indonesia Council Women's Committee commemorated International Women's Day (IWD) along the length of the road in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Jakarta on Wednesday March 8.

One of the demonstrators, Indah Saptorini, said the action was aimed at calling on the government to immediately ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Number 183 on Maternal Protection.

As reported by BBC Indonesia correspondent Hilman Handoni, the peaceful action was joined by several labour and non-government organisations (LSM) from various parts of Jakarta.

Jumisih from Women Workers Corner said that her group supported these demands. "Companies intimidate women [who try to] obtain their right to maternal leave, to give birth", she said during a break in the demonstration.

The group also called for an end to sexual harassment and violence against women. "We carried out a small study in the Nusantara Bonded Zone in Cakung in October last (year). The result was that we found 25 cases of harassment at 15 companies", she said.

Jumisih said that she is sure that this is less than the actual number of cases. The forms of this harassment vary from wolf-whistles, peeping toms to groping.

Under the ILO convention, the government would be obliged to provide 14 weeks maternity leave. "Up until now in Indonesia, we only get 12 weeks leave", said Indah Saptorini.

The reality, according to Indah, is that many women workers who are pregnant or give birth are sacked. "Their bargaining position is also weak because of their status as outsourced workers", she added.

According to Law Number 13/2003 on Labour, women workers should be entitled to the same wages as men, the right to breastfeed, two days menstrual leave, three months maternal leave and protection against sexual harassment.

A women worker named Ika said who works at a motorcycle factory in Tangerang, Banten province, said that she had just recently returned from maternal leave. "[I] got three months", she said adding that her wage was paid in full. Like many other women workers however, she had to take her leave long before actually giving birth.

"Leave has to be taken exactly seven months after becoming pregnant", she said. So mothers only have three months or less with the new baby, which is why she joined the action.

According to labour regulations, women workers are entitled to monthly menstrual leave but in practice some factories make this difficult. "We have great difficulties going to the toilet. You have to queue", said one of the women workers taking part in the action. A number of demonstrators also said that women's toilet facilities are usually limited.

"In Batam, there are factories that order security personnel to examine the menstrual blood of their women workers. Although they're women (the security personnel) it's still uncomfortable", added Indah. "There are also factories that implement a policy of [blood] test before menstruation or [require] a doctor's certificate".

Also mentioned was that women workers still face problems such as prohibitions on trade unions and time restrictions to organise.

As afternoon approached, the protest action in front of the DPR ended and a number of protesters moved off to convey their demands at a demonstration in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski for the Indoleft news service. The original title of the report was "Hari Perempuan Internasional, seribu perempuan buruh tuntut '14 minggu cuti melahirkan'".]

Source: http://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-39202145.

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