CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 September 2018

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Indonesian women march for legal protection

JAKARTA (UCAN): An estimated 1,200 women as well as children, students and women’s rights advocates took part in the second Women’s March in Indonesia on March 3, to push for new regulations to protect women from violence.
 
Using the hashtag #LawanBersama (fight together), they carried banners as they walked about 2.5 kilometres through Jakarta and gathered at a park in the National Monument area overlooking the State Palace, five days ahead of International Women’s Day. The five-hour programme also included art performances.
 
“We want to fight together to end gender-based violence by pushing for legal protection,” Kerrina Basaria, an organiser from the Jakarta Feminist Discussion Group, said. 
 
She mentioned the anti-sexual violence and domestic worker protection bills tabled before parliament as examples, saying, “They must be immediately approved by legislators to protect women from violence.” 
 
The anti-sexual violence bill, drafted by the National Commission on Violence against Women, is under discussion in the legislative body. The domestic worker protection bill, laying down what kind of work domestic workers do, working hours and rates of pay, has been pending in parliament since 2004.
 
“We want non-discriminatory regulations,” Basaria said. 
 
Commission chairperson, Azriana Manalu, said the event would build momentum for eliminating violence against women among all parties, including legislators. 
 
“It’s not only close people (such as family members, neighbours or friends) who do violence to women but also the state through its policies,” she said. 
 
She said many women are victims of sexual abuse, but legal protection remains low. “As a result, they face difficulties in seeking justice.” 
 
The commission recorded 321,752 cases of sexual violence against women in 2015, up from 293,220 in 2014.
 
Siti Musdah Mulia, chairperson of the Indonesian Conference on Religion and Peace, lamented the government’s misconception of how to prevent violence against women.
 
“It’s very often interpreted as a control. If the government wants to protect women, protect us through fair regulations,” she said.
 
According to the commission, there are more than 400 discriminatory bylaws targeting women across Indonesia. In Aceh province, which adopts stricter Shariah-based rules and where women are often caned if they break them, one bylaw bans women from straddling motorcycles.
 
Mike Verawati, from Holy Family Parish in South Jakarta, joined the programme to show solidarity with women who are victims of violence. 
 
“It’s time for Catholics to join society in speaking up for justice,” she said, encouraging young Catholics to get involved.
 
Aisha Servia, a student at Global Jaya School in Tangerang, said it was time to fight for change and for human rights to be upheld for everyone.
 
“What we need to do now is to educate other people and make them know how important it is to uphold human rights, because we are one and we can’t let our differences separate us,” she said.
 
The first Women’s March was held last year when nearly 1,000 participants demanded equal rights. 

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