Indonesia Fails to Protect Maids: Amnesty

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia is failing to protect millions of domestic workers, some as young as 12, who face long hours, potentially deadly beatings and sexual abuse, Amnesty International said in a report released this week.

The estimated 2.6 million domestic workers in Indonesia are generally considered second-class citizens, the London-based rights watchdog said.

“Too many women domestic workers in Indonesia … face human rights abuses at work,” said the report, Exploitation and abuse: the plight of women domestic workers.

“Often forced to work from as young as 12 years of age, they suffer economic exploitation and poor working conditions, as well as gender-based discrimination. Many are subjected to physical, psychological and sexual violence. Some are even killed.”

The report details cases of women and girls who were abused, raped and even beaten to death by their employers.

Amnesty said their plight often remained hidden, as they were ashamed of talking about their experiences, and the authorities and general public appeared oblivious to them.

“By contrast, the plight of Indonesian domestic workers in other parts of Southeast Asia and the Middle East often make headlines in Indonesia,” it said.

Government moves to address the problem were falling short, the report said, “leaving millions of women vulnerable to abusive employers.”

While the government had submitted a draft law on domestic workers, it omitted basic rights given to other workers such as limits on working hours and a minimum wage, and most people were also unaware that a law on domestic violence applied to maids, Amnesty said.

“Like every other human being, domestic workers have rights – including the right to be free from violence, the right to rest and the right to be paid an adequate wage. The government is currently failing to protect these rights,” Amnesty deputy Asia director Natalie Hill said.

Amnesty called on the government to ensure maids received the same protection as other workers.

“The government needs to stop viewing domestic workers as inferior and give them the same legal protections as other workers. It also needs to educate police, the courts, employers and recruitment agencies on the fact that violence against domestic workers is a criminal offence,” Hill said.

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