Domestic violence on the rise in South Sumatra

Violence against women in South Sumatra rose dramatically in 2008, from 396 cases in 2007 to 568 cases, a year-end report from the Palembang chapter of the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC) has revealed.

WCC Executive Director Yeni Roslaini Izi said on Wednesday that cases of domestic violence topped the list, with 210 incidence (39 percent), compared to 201 in 2007; followed by sexual harassment with 100 cases (18 percent, up from 24 cases in 2007); child molestation with 69 cases (12 percent); rape with 61 cases (11 percent) and 47 sundry cases.

Reports of human trafficking, however, dropped to 81 cases (14 percent) from 89 in 2007.

Of the 210 domestic violence cases, abuse against housewives topped the list with 169 cases, followed by 20 cases involving housemaids, 14 cases involving children and seven incest cases.

The data was derived from reports filed at the WCC as well as from references from other institutions, such as hospitals, legal aid institutes and police stations.

However, only 60 percent of the cases were brought to justice and resolved psychologically; of these, domestic violence and trafficking cases were the least prosecuted.

“We have received an increasing number of complaints from the public,” Yeni told The Jakarta Post.

She added that only a small number of the cases were brought to court thanks to her group’s role as mediator and facilitator. Generally, victims are less eager to bring the cases to court, especially those which took place years ago.

“They consider it taboo and shameful if the cases are brought to court because they would be exposed to the public. In trafficking cases, usually pimps and middlemen are sent for trial,” she said.

She added that the drop in human trafficking reports did not indicate that cases of trafficking had dropped but more likely that victims were reluctant to report the cases or had fallen under the radar of her organization.

Trafficking cases in South Sumatra did not only take place transnationally but also domestically, between regencies and provinces, she said.

Among the underlying factors are poverty and desire for consumer items among teenage girls, which makes them easy targets for pimps and middlemen.

“Parents should not be easily lured into allowing their daughters to work in cities. They must be sure about the agency or company recruiting their daughters,” she said.

Yeni also cited lax supervision of recruitment procedures for migrant workers among relevant agencies in South Sumatra and the malfunction of state-run training centers as problems that lead to the exploitation of migrant workers.

“The training centers tend to only carry out their obligations without ensuring quality. Many training programs do not comply with the types of work they would engage in at their countries of destination,” Yeni said.

Yeni urged the provincial administration and legislature to take strong measures and ensure the immediate passage of an ordinance on violence against women next year, so various approaches on resolving the cases could be achieved due to the allocation of funds for the purpose from the government.

“Such matters are included in the law, but can be facilitated by the provincial administration by setting aside funds through a local ordinance,” she said.

South Sumatra legislator Fatimah Djaiz affirmed the ordinance would be approved by August 2009 at the latest.

The legislature is currently deliberating on the draft bylaw and by involving related parties, such as non-governmental women’s groups, to discuss the draft ordinance.

“We will fully support the passage of the bylaw,” said Fatimah.

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