Stronger Legislative, Policy Frameworks Have Led to Progress in Promoting, Protecting Indonesian Women’s Rights, Anti-Discrimination Committee Told

11 July 2012
WOM/1914

Stronger Legislative, Policy Frameworks Have Led to Progress in Promoting, Protecting Indonesian Women’s Rights, Anti-Discrimination Committee Told

11 July 2012
General Assembly
WOM/1914
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Committee on Elimination of

 Discrimination against Women

1043rd & 1044th Meetings (AM & PM)


Stronger Legislative, Policy Frameworks Have Led to Progress in Promoting,

 

Protecting Indonesian Women’s Rights, Anti-Discrimination Committee Told

 


Members Concerned about Archaic Practices under Cover of Religion, Tradition


By strengthening its national legislative and policy frameworks, ratifying international conventions, and advancing regional cooperation, Indonesia was making considerable progress in promoting and protecting women’s rights, the leader of that country’s delegation told the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women today.


Linda Amalia Sari, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection and head of the 27-member Indonesian delegation, began her presentation of the country’s combined sixth and seventh periodic reports by highlighting various domestic laws adopted since 2007 to safeguarded women’s rights.  They would provide protection to victims of human trafficking, eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination, and guarantee access to basic health care and services, she said.


The national legislature would shortly be considering a bill on gender equality, she continued.  In order to mainstream a gender perspective into policymaking, the Government was making efforts towards gender-responsive budgeting and planning.  Technical advocacy and capacity-building programmes were being provided for Government officials, legal drafters and law-enforcement officials to ensure that they were educated on human rights, especially women’s rights.


Citing the various international conventions that Indonesia had ratified, she highlighted the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families.  Indonesia also championed the rights of women at the regional level, she said, pointing out that her country was the current Chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee on Women.


Underscoring the Government’s commitment to protecting the rights of migrant workers, who were mostly women, the delegation stressed that Indonesia was actively cooperating with origin and destination countries on that issue, including in regional forums such as the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi dialogue.  Furthermore, the Government was evaluating the existing legal protection frameworks available to Indonesian migrant workers in their countries of employment.  A movement to recognize domestic workers as professionals had resulted in a bill on domestic workers, currently under discussion in the legislature.


The 23-member expert Committee had several questions for the delegation about the continuing prevalence of traditional customs such as female genital mutilation, which infringed women’s rights.  While religion and customs were enshrined in the Constitution, gender equality was not, a Committee member said, noting that the 2010 directive from the Ministry of Health merely stated that the procedure should be carried out by a qualified practitioner, thereby “medicalizing and institutionalizing” the practice.  Experts from such Muslim nations as Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan had repeatedly noted that female genital mutilation was not considered a Muslim practice in their countries.  They challenged Indonesian ministers to use their own powers to change the misperception about female genital mutilation.


Questioning the Indonesian law that held a man to be the head of the household, as well as the practices of polygamy and early marriage for girls, the Committee also expressed concern that archaic practices such as stoning and caning were still practised in a country that was presenting its sixth and seventh reports.  Members expressed disappointment with the lack of concrete changes since its last evaluation of Indonesia’s progress in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  The experts also noted that the draft bill on gender equality provided an excellent opportunity to incorporate the Convention into national law.


In response, the delegation stated that when health-care professionals were banned from performing female genital mutilation, women were left at the mercy of traditional practitioners, who put them in danger because of their lack of medical training.  According to the 2010 directive, therefore, female circumcision should be carried out only by qualified professionals, although that must not be construed as encouragement of the practice.  The Government was facilitating consultations with religious leaders and civil society members to find common ground and resolve the problem.


Alongside tradition, local autonomy was another challenge to preventing the abuse of women’s rights, the delegation said.  The practice of caning and stoning in the province of Aceh was a very difficult issue to resolve because the provincial government had adopted the principles of Islamic law.  Achieving gender equality was a continuing process, and as a multicultural multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, Indonesia was dedicated to building an environment conducive to women’s rights.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 12 July, to take up the combined fourth to seventh periodic reports of Bulgaria.


Background


The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women met today to take up the combined sixth and seventh periodic reports of Indonesia (document CEDAW/C/IDN/6-7).  For background information, please see Press Release WOM/1911 of 10 July.


Linda Amalla Sari, Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection, led the delegation, which also included Desra Percaya, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations; Sri Danti, Secretary-General, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection; Luly Altruiswaty, Deputy Minister for the Protection of Women, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection; Sulikanti Agusni, Deputy Minister for Gender Mainstreaming in the Economy, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection; Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, Director-General for Human Rights, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; Nina Sardjunani, Deputy Minister for Human Resources and Culture, Ministry of National Development Planning; and Yusra Khan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.


The delegation also included Muhammen Anshor, Director for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Andl Hanindito, Director for the Empowerment of Family and Social Institutions, Ministry of Social Affairs; Gita Maya Koemara Sakti, Director for Maternal Health, Ministry of Health; Mr. Sanjoyo, Director for Population, Women Empowerment and Child Protection, Ministry of National Development Planning; Andy Rachmianto, Counsellor, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; Acep Somantri, Official, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Erna Prissiliasari, Official, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; Ratna Indah C, Official, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; Prahesti Pandanwangi, Official, Ministry of National Development Planning; and Titien Pamudji, Expert Staff of the Minister for Women Empowerment and Child Protection.


Other delegation members were Ciput Eka Purwianti, Official, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection; Ratna Susianawati, Official, Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection; Yuliana Bahar, First Secretary, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; Yuliana Numberi, Women Empowerment and Child Protection Agency, Provincial Government of West Papua; Mrs. A. Lolong, Women Empowerment and Protection Agency, Provincial Government of West Papua; Sjamsiah Achmad, Gender Expert and Chair, Centre for Women Empowerment in Politics; Rita Serena Kolibonso, Gender Expert and Representative on Women’s Rights to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children; Imada Sagita Simbolon, Official, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mia Hapsari Kusuma, interpreter.


Introduction of Report


Minister SARI introduced the combined sixth and seventh reports, stating that since presenting its last report in 2007, her country had made considerable progress in the field of women’s rights.  It had adopted and enacted several laws and regulations, including legislation to eradicate human trafficking, eliminate racial and ethnic discrimination, and guarantee women’s access to basic health care and services.  Indonesia had also ratified various international conventions, such as the Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Furthermore, the Government was continuing its efforts to prepare ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.


The integration of gender mainstreaming was a top priority for Indonesia, and to that end the Government had enacted and issued regulations to provide for gender-responsive planning and budgeting, she said.  Various economic schemes were available to alleviate poverty among women, such as Desa PRIMA, which provided advocacy and training in practical skills.  The Government also provided training, technical advocacy and capacity-building programmes for Government officials, legal drafters, and law-enforcement officials in the field of human rights, including women’s rights.  Examples included Parameters on Gender Equality, aimed at legislators and policymakers, and the Training the Trainers module to be used by legal drafters.  Gender mainstreaming perspectives had also been integrated into the school curriculum and textbooks.

Turning to women’s participation in politics, she highlighted the significant increase in the number of female members in the parliament, which had grown from 11.09 per cent in 2004 to 17.86 per cent in 2009.  While the 30 per cent goal had not yet been reached, the establishment of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and the Women’s Caucus in Politics aimed to encourage women to participate more in that arena.  Women had held the positions of President, Governor and Minister, she said, adding that some had also been high-ranking officials.  In public service, the proportion of men (56 per cent) and women (44 per cent) was almost equal, she added.


Regarding trafficking, she said that, in addition to domestic law-making and ratifying the Convention, Indonesia had implemented a national action plan to combat trafficking in persons and child sexual exploitation.  It covered the prevention of trafficking, health rehabilitation, social rehabilitation, and the development of legal norms.  Task forces around the country were implementing the action plan, she said, noting that 97 cases had been brought to court and 38 had been adjudicated in the period 2006-2010.


Moving on to women’s health, she said reforms to the national health system included improved access to health services and facilities.  The Government had increased the national health budget and achieved a breakthrough in reducing the maternal mortality rate by establishing the Delivery Insurance Programme, which guaranteed funding for antenatal services, delivery assistance, and post-partum services.  The family planning programme had been revitalized and was focused on increasing access to quality care in 23,500 family planning clinics countrywide.  The Government had expanded the non-governmental organization-initiated Adolescents Reproductive Health Programme, which focused on providing information and counselling services for young people.


Further, the country was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals targets for primary education and literacy, she continued.  Indonesia was working to ensure that by 2015, every child would receive at least nine years of basic education.  The Government would continue to allocate 20 per cent of the national budget to education, she said.


She said that, to strengthen the protection of its migrant workers, the Government was evaluating existing legal frameworks and bilateral agreements applicable in their countries of employment.  Increased awareness of the contribution of domestic workers to economic development had resulted in a movement to ensure their protection, and parliament was currently debating a bill on domestic workers.


At the regional level, Indonesia chaired the ASEAN Committee on Women, she said.  It also contributed to forums such as the Colombo Process and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, which brought together origin and destination countries to cooperate in protecting the rights of migrant workers.


Noting that there were many challenges on the path to women’s empowerment, she highlighted the context of regional autonomy, as well as the patriarchal culture that remained prevalent in most parts of Indonesia.  Through advocacy, gender sensitization and capacity-building, the Government hoped to change the mindset of society, she said.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


RUTH HALPERIN-KADDARI, expert from Israel, said that religion and customs that infringed on women’s rights continued to take precedence over gender equality in the Constitution, notably in certain provinces, such as Aceh and Papua.  Wondering what the Convention’s normative constitutional status was, she also asked whether the Ministry of Home Affairs had conducted a judicial review of discriminatory by-laws.  What was the time frame for ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention, which Indonesia had already signed?


PRAMILA PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, asked about concrete Government plans to provide restitution, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees to all women victims of human rights violations committed during Indonesia’s various conflicts.  Was there a national programme to take into account the different experiences of women affected by conflict?  Were any such cases before the Human Rights Court related to sexual violence?


YOKO HAYASHI, expert from Japan, asked what measures had been taken since 2007 to strengthen the national machinery for women’s advancement in terms of decision-making power, as well as human and financial resources.  What steps had the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection taken towards comprehensive monitoring of the situation of women and to oversee other ministries?  What was the Government doing to rectify the lack of sex-disaggregated data?  Was there a comprehensive action plan on women’s development?


Delegation’s Response


Ms. SARI said the Constitution provided strong protections for both men’s and women’s rights.  Article 1 provided a definition of discrimination on religious, cultural, ethnic, racial, legal and social grounds.  Article 3 established that everyone was entitled to protection of their human rights.  A draft bill on gender equality was being developed, she added.


Another delegate said that Indonesia hoped to ratify the Optional Protocol in 2014.


Yet another delegate, addressing criticism of special autonomy in Aceh and Papua provinces, where religious customs and beliefs infringed on women’s rights, said that, given the country’s large size, it was beholden to many customs and belief systems.  It was not easy to address human rights issues in a uniform way.  Citing various programmes aimed at addressing concerns over by-laws, she said the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights was endeavouring to ensure they were in line with gender-equality principles.  Each province had a regional committee to implement the national action plan on human rights, and the Government was trying to harmonize laws in accordance with human rights norms and standards.


Another delegate said that in the past two years, the Ministry of Home Affairs had worked with the National Commission on Violence against Women to develop indicators and map out existing by-laws on human rights protection.  The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, as well as the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, had developed guidelines to determine what percentage of regional budgets should be earmarked for gender mainstreaming purposes.


Concerning the plight of women affected by conflict, another delegate pointed to the Indonesia-Timor-Leste Commission of Truth and Friendship, set up in 2005 to investigate human rights violations by Indonesia and its Armed Forces during the occupation of East Timor.  A national legislative and institutional framework had been put in place to address past abuses, as part of ongoing Government efforts to move forward on that issue.


Responding to Ms. Hayashi’s questions, a delegate said the Convention had been incorporated into Indonesia’s 2005-2025 medium-term development plan, which included a chapter on gender mainstreaming.  There were sex-disaggregated data in the education sector, where enrolment rates in primary and higher education were tracked by gender.  The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection served as the coordinating body for gender—related activities in Government ministries.


According to another delegate, the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection had signed memorandums of understanding with 20 other relevant ministries to generate awareness and implement gender-mainstreaming and child-protection policies.  The Ministry also provided capacity-building and technical assistance to the national family planning agency.  Twenty-eight ministries used gender budgeting.


Another delegate said the Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, as well as the Central Agency on Statistics, jointly published an annual publication on the status of gender in the country at large and in various sectors.  They were working together to improve the ability of statisticians to gather sex-disaggregated data.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


ISMAT JAHAN, expert from Bangladesh, asked whether there were any sanctions for non-implementation of quotas and temporary measures, or any incentives for their implementation.  While noting that the report mentioned temporary measures undertaken in the political sphere, she requested additional information on their application in other sectors, such as education and the judiciary.


NAELA MOHAMED GABR, expert from Egypt, noting that Indonesia was viewed within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as an example for the Muslim world to follow, asked whether female genital mutilation was considered a cultural or religious practice.  In Africa, it was a tradition that had nothing to do with Islam, she said, adding that the Committee hoped Indonesia would review that issue with other Islamic countries.


AYSE FERIDE ACAR, expert from Turkey, supported Ms. Gabr, saying that, as a person from yet another Muslim country, she found it difficult to consider female genital mutilation an Islamic practice, and “unacceptable” to think of it as a “benign cultural practice”.  Additionally, the Indonesian law that held the man to be the head of the household endorsed the subordination of women while enhancing the hierarchy of sexes.  Noting that polygamy and early marriage for girls was still allowed in Indonesia, she emphasized her disappointment that the report did not address any concrete changes in respect of those matters, which had previously been raised before the Committee.  Many of the norms and practices in Aceh were glaringly flagrant abuses of human rights, she said.  “Archaic practices such as stoning and caning are in practice in a country that is presenting its sixth and seventh reports to CEDAW”, she pointed out, asking what was being done to align national norms with international obligations.


Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt, then turned to the subject of trafficking, stressing the necessity to study its underlying causes, poverty being one of them.  Noting that Indonesia had between 3 million and 6 million migrant workers, mostly women, she asked what the Government was doing to raise awareness among workers and to provide microcredit to women from poor communities.


MARIA HELENA LOPES DE JESUS PIRES, expert from Timor-Leste, pointed out that women were recruited for trafficking by neighbours and family members.  Asking about awareness-raising measures for the general public and law-enforcement officials, she also sought to know whether recruitment agencies involved in trafficking were ever prosecuted, and whether the Government or its embassies abroad were monitoring such agencies.


Delegation’s Response


Ms. SARI said women’s representation in regional councils had stood at 27 per cent in 2010, the highest so far.  Women also held many positions at the executive level.  The current Cabinet had four women members, including herself, she said.  The public sector had 4.5 million civil servants, 46 per cent of whom were women, she said, adding that the Government had been developing an affirmative action scheme for the forthcoming elections.


Another delegate said there were no sanctions for political parties that failed to comply with temporary measures.  The Government was collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to enhance citizen participation at the regional and national levels, and to strengthen the capacity of women parliamentarians.


Responding to questions about female genital mutilation, another delegation member said the Director-General in the Ministry of Health had banned health-care professionals from performing the procedure.  However, since many communities perceived it as religious tradition, the ban put women back in the hands of traditional practitioners, who had no medical training.  As a result, the Ministry of Health had issued a regulation that female circumcision should be done only by qualified professionals and only at the request of the person being circumcised.  The regulation should not be construed as encouraging the practice, she warned, adding that it was aimed only at protecting women who had to undergo female genital mutilation.  Further, the Government planned to facilitate consultations on that issue with stakeholders such as religious leaders and civil society representatives.


As for caning and stoning in Aceh, another delegate said that was a very difficult issue to solve.  Due to decentralization, the provincial government had autonomy, and Aceh had adopted the principles of Islamic law.  The Ministry of Home Affairs was continually monitoring and providing guidance to the local authorities on how to improve local laws.


The Government’s commitment to preventing trafficking was evident in Law no. 21 of 2007, on the eradication of trafficking and the establishment of the national task force on trafficking, another delegate stated.  The law provided State protection for all victims who were citizens.  Law enforcers had been made aware of the law and its relationship to other laws.  The legislation had been integrated into the education curriculum of the police department and judiciary.  Seventeen provinces had established their own task forces to provide integrated and quick actions to victims, he said, adding that the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection had also established a useful website for the exchange of data between the task forces.


Returning to the subject of trafficking, another delegate stated that 130 recruitment agencies (20 per cent of the total number) had been sanctioned by having their permits revoked for violating the national standard for preparing migrant workers in the pre-deployment period.  Diplomatic missions abroad had taken many measures to help migrant workers, and 24-hour citizen services were available in countries of employment where there were large numbers of migrant workers.  Further, the Government was working on strengthening regional protection frameworks through discussions within ASEAN.  The protection of domestic migrant workers was another crucial issue, he said, adding that, with increased public awareness that domestic workers were neither servants nor part of the family, the Government was moving towards giving them the same protections as workers employed in the formal sector.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


PATRICIA SCHULZ, expert from Switzerland, expressed concern about provincial laws that deprived indigenous women of their rights, by-laws in Aceh Province that exposed adulterers to death by stoning, and corporal punishment of 100 lashes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  She said she was also concerned about the delegation’s response to the Special Rapporteur on Violence, in which it had said there was no commitment by the federal Government to challenge local and provincial laws.  “Do you plan to strike down provincial laws as you have the power to do so?” she asked the Minister, emphasizing that provincial laws could not be used as an excuse to condone human rights violations against women.


Ms. HAYASHI, expert from Japan, noted that the 2004 domestic violence law lacked a monitoring mechanism, and asked whether the Government planned to install an enforcement mechanism.  Quoting alternative sources, she said Indonesian police sometimes advised victims of rape to marry the perpetrators.  What was being done to stop that?


Ms. JAHAN, expert from Bangladesh, said it was unacceptable that the tradition of female genital mutilation had been closely associated with Islam and that the Health Ministry’s 2010 directive stated merely that the procedure should be carried out by a qualified practitioner, when it really should be outlawed.


Ms. GABR, expert from Egypt, pointing out that the Convention and all other international human rights treaties condemned female genital mutilation and sexual violence against women, expressed regret that, while Indonesia had promised to consider treaty bodies’ recommendations to outlaw them, it had yet to do so.  Hopefully, Indonesia would draw on the steps taken in other Muslim countries aimed at ending female genital mutilation.


DUBRAVKA ŠIMONOVIĆ, expert from Croatia, said the draft bill on gender equality provided an excellent opportunity to incorporate the Convention into national law.  She also asked whether the bill would include references to the Convention and the principles of equality between men and women, and whether there was any time frame for its adoption.


Seeking further clarification about efforts to combat violence against women and female genital mutilation, she asked whether Indonesia had criminalized any form of that practice.  It was regrettable that apparently the only legislation concerning the practice, the 2010 directive, supported some form of it, she said.


ZOHRA RASEKH, Committee Vice-Chairperson and expert from Afghanistan, said the practice did not exist in her country, which was 99 per cent Muslim.  What percentage of Indonesians believed it was a religious order from the Prophet Mohammed? she asked.  Did the delegation believe that female genital mutilation was a religious practice?  “If you don’t believe in this, Madame Minister, what have you done within your own power to change this misperception among the public?” she asked, stressing that the federal Government had the power to strike it down.


Ms. HALPERIN-KADDARI, expert from Israel, asked why the Government had not considered incorporating the Convention into the Constitution whereas it had incorporated it into other laws.


Ms. ACAR asked whether any Supreme Court decision was expected concerning by-laws in certain regions governing violence against women.


Ms. PIRES, seeking clarification of who was a victim, pointed out that some victims felt that police treated them as the criminals.


Delegation’s Response


Ms. SARI said the Government planned to facilitate a dialogue on female circumcision with all stakeholders.


Another delegate said the federal Government had reviewed 9,000 by-laws and issued 351 related recommendations, calling for clarification.  There was no time frame for the Supreme Court’s decision concerning regional by-laws governing violence against women.  Such a decision would be based on the Court’s judicial review.  The canon, or local by-law, governing adultery in Aceh was not operational as it had not been published in the Aceh provincial government’s local gazette.  The federal Government continued to take steps to eliminate discriminatory by-laws and promote the creation of local by-laws that would uphold women’s rights.


A delegation member said the Government aimed to enact a draft bill on gender equality, which included a gender-mainstreaming strategy and provisions for gender budgeting, by 2014.  Concerning trafficking victims, she said they often complained that law-enforcement officers were not on their side.  On the contrary, they were blaming the victims.


Another delegate said Indonesia did not criminalize lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.  Under the domestic violence law, perpetrators of sexual violence were subject to 12 years’ imprisonment and fines of 36 million rupiah.  Women could file reports of sexual violence committed by their husbands, but such cases were not criminalized.  Rape was dealt with through mediation mechanisms.


Regarding assistance to prostitutes, another delegate said the Ministry of Social Services provided skills training in sewing, cooking and other areas, as well as grants to help them start businesses.  A victims’ hotline fielded complaints and social workers provided counselling.  The Government had set up a National AIDS Commission, and its national action plan to combat HIV/AIDS included free health-care services for all people with the disease, including prostitutes.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


Ms. SCHULZ, expert from Switzerland, stated that the law to increase women’s participation in elections had no teeth because there were no sanctions for political parties that did not have a proportional percentage of women candidates.  What plans did the Government have to make the law more efficient? she asked, emphasizing that it needed to review the options for a new electoral system guaranteeing an increase not only of women as candidates, but also as elected members in the legislature.  She noted that her own country, Switzerland, had discussed the “zebra system” of alternating one woman for one man on the electoral roll, but it had not been implemented.  The Committee was worried about the tendency in Aceh and other provinces to restrict women’s participation in politics and decision-making to local political bodies.


Ms. HAYASHI, expert from Japan, sought to know how the Government would accomplish the registration of birth certificates for all children.  Could all Indonesian mothers, even those belonging to minority groups, apply for and get birth certificates for their children free of charge, regardless of local by-laws?


Delegation’s Response


A delegation member said it was not easy to ensure that people casting their votes realized the necessity of electing 30 per cent women candidates.  The Government would issue recommendations to political parties proposing an increase in women’s participation.


Regarding birth certificates, she said there were indeed many children who did not have them.  The Government had been collaborating with various agencies and ministries to accelerate the provision of birth certificates since 2010.  The law stipulated that every newborn could get their birth certificate free within 60 days of birth.  Further, the circuit courts had completed 22,789 cases of marriage legalization, enabling parents to get birth certificates for their children.  The Supreme Court of Indonesia had coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to legalize marriages abroad so that children born abroad to migrant workers could receive their birth certificates.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


Ms. ACAR, expert from Turkey, said she was “truly impressed” that 20 per cent of the State budget was allocated to education, but baffled that girls were unable to attend school because of financial restrictions on families.  What prevented families from sending girl children to school?  It was clear that early marriage and pregnancy were contributing to increased dropout trends on the part of girls.  She also asked whether the madrassa type of education enhanced women’s economic skills.


Ms. PATTEN, expert from Mauritius, asked about the human rights violations that migrant workers suffered before departure, during training and after they reached the destination country.  Was the Government monitoring the content of the training materials?  Could the Government indicate the time frame for the adoption of the law on domestic workers?  She also requested information on the equal employment opportunities task force which seemed to have lost force since 2007.


Ms. JAHAN, expert from Bangladesh, recalled that the presidentially appointed task force on migrant workers had recently called for a blanket moratorium on sending domestic workers to the Middle East until legal protection was granted.  She also requested clarification regarding the meaning of legal protection.  Given that demand for workers would be high if unscrupulous agents started sending them abroad through illegal or underground channels of recruitment, how would the Government monitor human rights violations against such workers?


Ms. RASEKH, Vice-Chairperson and expert from Afghanistan, asked how the Government monitored transparency and accountability in the delivery of public health, maternal and child health services.  Was social health insurance accepted in private clinics and throughout the provinces?  The high rates of maternal mortality had not changed since the last report, she noted, asking whether there were programmes to address that issue.  She also requested information about forced sterilization and other discriminatory acts that women with HIV and AIDS were forced to undergo.


Repeating an earlier question, she asked what percentage of Indonesia’s Muslim population believed that female genital mutilation was a religious duty.  If the Ulema Council — Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body — passed another fatwa ordering that women’s breasts must be cut off, would the Government medicalize that practice as well? she asked, pointing out that, instead of criminalizing female genital mutilation, the Government had “medicalized and institutionalized it”.


Ms. HAYASHI, expert from Japan, asked about the land and intellectual property rights of indigenous women.


ZOU XIAOQIAO, expert from China, asked about the inclusion of a gender perspective in poverty-eradication programmes.  Was it possible to ensure that women in rural areas were benefitting from them?  Did women and men enjoy the same rights with regard to land? she asked, noting that it had been reported that local cultural values did not recognize women’s rights to land.  Furthermore, the Government contributed to the preservation of that gender injustice by requiring only the husband’s name on the title deed because he was the head of the family, she noted.


Delegation’s Response


A delegate said the Government aimed to increase girls’ access to education through affirmative action policies.  Since 2010, the Ministry of Education and Culture had implemented gender mainstreaming policies, and established a cash-transfer programme to enable poor families to send their children to school.  Clarifying children dropped out of school largely due to economic woes rather than early marriage or teen pregnancy, the delegate stressed that primary education was compulsory for all children.  Nevertheless, the Government would introduce a strategy in 2013 to prevent early marriage and keep girls in school.  Noting that madrassa education combined general and Islamic education, the delegation member said the Government was working closely with the Chamber of Commerce to improve vocational education.  Education was not compulsory for domestic workers.


Another delegate said the Government monitored and evaluated the practices of agencies employing migrant workers.  In 2010, it had found that 130 out of 570 agencies had violated laws governing the recruitment and placement of those workers, and the Government was in the process of evaluating blacklisted agencies.  The National Agency for Protection and Monitoring of Indonesian Migrant Workers operated a call centre for those living abroad.  Regarding a moratorium on sending workers aboard, she said the Governments of Indonesia and Malaysia had signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the issuance of passports.


Yet another delegation member pointed out that, a few months ago, Indonesia had ratified the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.


Another delegate said the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration had incorporated gender mainstreaming and equal opportunity strategies into its policies and programmes.


According to another delegation member, the Development Finance Controller, the Government’s internal audit agency, provided social insurance nationwide, including pre-natal, post-natal and family planning insurance.  Services were provided to 7 million pregnant women annually.  At present, abortion was legal only in cases where the life of the mother or the foetus was in danger.


A delegate, citing the “increasing women’s economic productivity” programmes implemented regionally and locally, said the “independent village” model was implemented by ministries in the economic field.  The Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection and the national land agency collaborated to address issues of women’s land ownership, which included assistance to those who lost their homes and land during natural disasters.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


Ms. HALPERIN-KADDARI, expert from Israel, asked whether there had been any progress in the debate about revising marriage laws, which had been going on since 1974.  Would it be possible to introduce civil marriage and divorce for all citizens? she asked.  Noting that it was her understanding that sharia courts had exclusive jurisdiction over personal status, she asked whether female judges could be introduced in those courts.  Seeking information about the proportion of male and female lawyers in sharia courts, she also asked whether women were provided with legal aid for legal proceedings.


Delegation’s Response


One delegate said Indonesia was trying to revise the present laws on marriage as they had created unequal power relationships between husbands and wives.  Meanwhile the Government had taken a number of measures in the interim.  If a woman wished to initiate a divorce in the religious court, the process was free.  The religious court had also legalized many common-law marriages, affording greater protection to women in such marriages.  The Ministry of Religious Affairs had tried to increase understanding of gender equality in marriage through workshops on “Harmonious Families with Equality Perspective”.  There were also training modules for religious leaders on dealing with domestic violence.


Experts’ Questions and Comments


Ms. HAYASHI, expert from Japan, asked about facilities for women detainees, noting that the Committee had received information that women in detention centres were often sexually harassed by prison guards and male inmates.


Ms. RASEKH, Committee Vice-Chairperson and expert from Afghanistan, raised the question of abortion only being legal during the six-week gestational period.  At times, it took up to three months to recognize abnormalities in the foetus, she noted, asking what solutions were available to women at that stage.


Delegation’s Response


A delegation member replied that Indonesian law stipulated that men and women detainees should be separated.  Due to limited funding, however, the country did not have separate facilities.  Men and women were, therefore, detained in separate rooms within the same building.


Regarding abortion, another delegate explained that medical emergencies that threatened the mother’s life would be regulated by a Government decree, currently under discussion.  The Government was facilitating a consultation on female genital mutilation with various stakeholders such as religious leaders and civil society members.  The Government hoped to find common ground and resolve that issue, in line with Convention principles.


Ms. SARI concluded by stating that the Committee’s consideration of her country’s report was a unique opportunity for Indonesia to kick-start greater efforts to implement the Convention and identify areas to strengthen efforts.  As a multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, Indonesia was committed to creating an environment conducive to women’s rights, she emphasized.  That was a continuing process, and constructive dialogue with the Committee and other human rights mechanisms would be a valuable source of help.


The Chair thanked the delegation for its insights into the state of women in Indonesia and encouraged it to take all possible steps to address the Committee’s concerns.


* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.