Muhammad Naufal, Jakarta – A group of women wearing traditional Javanese clothing joined a protest action by students and workers in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) building in Jakarta on Thursday April 21. April 21 is commemorated in Indonesia as Kartini Day.
One of the women who loudly articulated her views in front of the hundreds of protesters was Sunarti. She gave a speech from on top of a vehicle parked right in front of the DPR building gates.
Beneath the sun's intense heat, Sunarti, who wore green traditional Javanese clothing, complete with a stripped brown batik kemben (traditional Javanese strapless top), said she intentionally wore traditional clothing today to commemorate the past services of Raden Ajeng Kartini.
"Today I'm wearing traditional clothing. To respect the Javanese women, RA Kartini, who is a hero who liberated women in Indonesia", she said speaking later. "So today, on April 21, as a women I must remember Kartini's struggle", she added.
The former general chairperson of the 1992 All Indonesia Trade Union (SBSI 92) said that winning the struggle for women's liberation will take more than a moment. According to Sunarti, there is no struggle that can be won instantaneously.
She related this to the title of one of the books written about Kartini, "After the Darkness Comes the Light" (Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang).
"Yeah, like, after the dark comes the light. In a struggle it's difficult at first, right, only then does it succeed. And today's struggle is also the same", she said.
Sunarti said that many of the women who have joined the protest action this Thursday have come from outside Jakarta including from Solo (Central Java), Garut and Bandung (West Java) and even Surabaya (East Java).
"Our demands are the same, there is no difference. The key is [abolishing] the Omnibus Law", she said.
According to Kompas.com's observations, the protesters filling the area in front of the DPR building came from two different groups, namely workers and students.
There were at least 10 demands conveyed by the protesters during the action. As of 3.29 pm they were still articulating these demands.
The police meanwhile remained on guard on the outside and inside of the parliamentary gates.
The action at the DPR was held at the same time as a demonstration at the Arjuna Wiwaha Horse Statue in Central Jakarta which was organised by the National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM SI).
Raden Ajeng Kartini was an Indonesian regent's daughter during the Dutch colonial period who, through her letters home, outlined her dreams of a better life for women. She died aged 25 a few days after giving birth to her first child. A variety of myths have made the original Kartini a nationalist hero and feminist symbol. Hari Kartini (Kartini Day, April 21) is a public holiday dedicated to the memory of the turn-of-the-century hero.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pakai Baju Adat Layaknya Kartini Saat Demo di Gedung DPR/MPR, Massa Aksi: Perjuangan itu Susah".]