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Indonesia: Female Domestic Workers ‘Vulnerable To Extreme Exploitation And Abuse ’

More than half a million underage female domestic workers in Indonesia are at risk of potentially fatal sexual and physical abuse and have no legal protection, a leading rights group has indicated. Human Rights Watch said about 640,000 girls as young as 12 were being made to work up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for employers, many of whom subjected them to constant physical and sexual threats. In a report released in Jakarta last week, it said some female workers suffered wounds caused by beatings, cigarettes, hot iron burns and imprisonment. Other cases had even resulted in paralysis and death.

The New York-based group urged the Indonesian government to amend its labor laws to afford female workers their basic right to decent working hours, regular breaks and a minimum wage.

Indonesia has an estimated 2.6 million domestic workers, of which 688,132 or 34 percent are children, Human Rights Watch said, quoting a 2003 International Labor Organization survey.

Many of the girls came from poor and rural areas and were lured by neighbors, relatives and labor recruiters with false promises of high wages, easy work and education, the report said.

“The Indonesian government has left child domestic workers at the complete mercy of their employers,” said Sahr Mohammad Ally, a researcher into children’s issues for Human Rights Watch.

“The absence of legal protections or governmental oversight leaves child domestic workers vulnerable to extreme exploitation and abuse.”

The 74-page report offered testimonies from a score of underage female workers who experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse committed by employers behind closed doors.

Girls recounted tales of sexual harassment and of being raped by male employers or male visitors of their employers, the report said.

“The Indonesian government must no longer turn a blind eye to such abuse, but should take affirmative steps to protect children from such worst forms of child labor,” said Ally.

The report said the departure of adults to work in foreign countries also contributed to the rise of under-aged workers, with children left behind encouraged to take employment in Indonesian cities to help family incomes.
Indonesia, which has the world’s fourth-largest population, is a major supplier of migrant domestic workers to Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian and East Asian countries.

Human Rights Watch said the government must “strictly enforce the minimum age of 15 for all employment sectors”, both for formal businesses and informal domestic employers.

It also urged Jakarta to work with the International Labor Organization to implement a program to eliminate “the worst forms” of child domestic labor by a set deadline.


Source: http://www.mmorning.com/ArticleC.asp?Article=2601&CategoryID=7

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MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers.

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