Feb 15th, 2007, in News, by

Amnesty International condemns the treatment of domestic servants in Indonesia.

In a comprehensive report Amnesty International says there are about 2.6 million domestic workers in Indonesia, the majority of whom are women and girls, some as young as 12 or 13, who live in their employer’s home and cook, clean, and take care of children. These people, whether they are called “servants”, housekeepers, nannies, or pembantu rumah:

face withheld wages, working days of up to 22 hours, beatings, sexual violence and forced confinement.

Some extreme examples are given:

My employer threw hot water on me when she got angry… She also threw the boiler at me.

My employer locked me in the room every evening. I couldn’t go to the bathroom during the night.

He forced me to have sex with him.

The government is said to have no interest in protecting household workers, and even discriminates against them, because they are excluded from the legal protection (in the Manpower Act (Law 13/2003)) given to other workers regarding minimum wages and limitations on working hours. A draft law of 2006 on the rights of domestic workers is not strong enough.

Amnesty says the 2004 Law on the Elimination of Violence in the Household (Law 23/2004), although it does apply to servants, has not been effectively enforced. amnesty

6 Comments on “Housekeepers”

  1. Mohammed Khafi says:

    I think if Amnesty International wish to keep their good reputation they should be a little less theatrical in their use of such campaigns and statements.

    Whilst I am sure that there are some unfortunate domestic helpers who have been subjected to such inhumane treatments, and should of course be protected by suitable laws, I would think that the numbers, percentage wise are very low.

    By all means, highlight these cases of abuse, but do no exaggerate the problem looking for cheap publicity instead use your power to lobby the government and judiciary to increase the protection of these workers and to enforce the existing laws.


  2. Umay says:

    Well, I think amnesty international should be pointing their finger to the domestic helpers who work outside Indonesia, their plights are worrisome.

    But, it’s very interesting to know that a big country like Indonesia doesn’t have a specific law pertaining to this sector.

  3. Bas says:

    Some extreme examples are given:

    He forced me to have sex with him.

    Hey, there is nothing extreme in this example. Most Indonesian men have “raped” their “pembantu” at least once. That’s also how young men know sex beside going to prostitutes and raping their girlfriends. Rape (not always with violence) is in fact a common way to sleep with a woman in Indonesia. It’s so common many expats already use that. It’s totally safe for the raper as long as you don’t publish videos of what you did.

    At least 30% of my female friends have been raped. By their ex boyfriends, expats, a policeman. And 90% of my friends are well educated. Many of them are even rich. So talking about pembantu in Indonesia and outside Indonesia, it’s just horrifying.

  4. Colson says:

    It’s no denying there’s problem. Or saying that the problem is not that bad. That’s the way Bush ( when Amnesty revealed akward thruths about Guantanamo Bay) and Putin ( confronted with the crimes committed by Russia in Tjsetchin) reacted.

    Usuallly Amnesty International is rather accurate. I’m convinced it is a quite reliable watchdog on human rights. And every now and then the organization is successful.

    When officials and unsuspecting compatriots tell “no” and Amnesty tells “yes”, i know what to believe. The mere fact that abuse of domestic helpers has been reported from the Gulf States and Singapore doesn’t mean it does not happen in Indonesia. It does.

  5. Rockstar says:

    Most Indonesian men have “raped” their “pembantu” at least once.

    Lol I hope you’re not one of them. 🙂

  6. Dragonwall says:

    face withheld wages, working days of up to 22 hours, beatings, sexual violence and forced confinement.

    Some extreme examples are given:
    My employer threw hot water on me when she got angry”¦ She also threw the boiler at me.

    My employer locked me in the room every evening. I couldn’t go to the bathroom during the night.

    He forced me to have sex with him.

    I suppose Amnesty International’s so called watchdog were extremely bias and based on conjecture from hear say or remote reports.

    If a pembantu is face with withheld wages, do you think they will continue to work there for a prolonged period of time? Most of them made a request themselves for the money to be sent to their family in a lump sum.
    They failed to touch up on those who stole from their employers I guess these are also remote case but it does happened. I myself have encountered with at least 5 of them working for me and most of them worked for at least 2 – 3 years before such things happened. They usually occur when they started to fraternize with those tukang bangunan from neighboring houses during their renovation. They then start to get itchy one or the other then they are usually coerced in stealing from employers. Otherwise they are okay.

    Most of them are stay in helpers being provided food, lodging and transportation. So how does the 22 hours fit in the picture. Do you have something for the PRT to do and only sleeping 2 hours? Can you withstand that? That is over exageration of facts which are baseless.
    Most of the PRT works 10 hours at most the rest of their time are spend weeing away watching TV of sleeping. And one thing they don’t even cook. Their job was to wash and clean that’s it.

    As for those being abused, they are more commonly found in those TKI abroad than in Indonesia itself. So I guess those watchdog are perhaps those dogs that only watches.

    As for raping, they hardly happened. You might not get 1 in a 100. When I was in Sidoardjo, one of my CPA was provided with a PRT. She only does cleaning and washing clothes. She was kind of like this guy and slept with him. Is that considered rape? Yes and No. Both of them itchy, so who to blame.

    But I know of most Filipinas. I was working with a HR company in the Philippines and those sent to work in Singapore slept with their employer. For what reason I don’t know. But when they are pissed off with their employer they will usually accuse them of rape. Honestly speaking none of them will say they did it out of their own free will. It is no difference in Indonesia. But is Middle Eastern countries I might say there were frequent report of that hapenning to Filipinas and Indonesian PRT.

    Amnesty International should look more into those case of people who were persecuted in their country seeking refuge abroad and help them more. Beacuse I knew of many many cases of prejudical and bias judgement passed down by judge who had little or know knowledge of the his of the country of the person seeking refuge in their country like, Canada, Australia, UK, USA and some European countries and most of the time it was based on individual perception on what they know in determining their fate.
    They forsake those that seek their help, like in most case countries offering refuge to foreigners seeking protection in their country were politically motivated.

    Amnesty International should also touched up on subject like the ever demanding of Muslim clerics in pressing Indonesia to give in to Sharia Law and persecuting those that does not embrace Islam. Pressure should be exerted to the government of country/ies that are deemed to have enforce, threaten their citizens by forcing them into such laws.

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