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3 Women Who Suffered Rights Abuses Presented With Kartini Day Awards

Sumber: THEJAKARTAGLOBE.COM | Tgl terbit: Selasa, 21 April 2009

Nurfika Osman

The National Commission on Violence Against Women, or Komnas Perempuan, commemorated Kartini Day on Tuesday by presenting awards to three women who have struggled to overcome the pain of past human rights abuses allegedly perpetrated by the government and the Indonesian Armed Forces.

One of the women, Samiati from Aceh Province, was presented with an award for her efforts to rehabilitate and assist women who lost their husbands, sons and other family members during the recent war between the military and the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM.

Samiati, who lost her brothers Umar Usman and Samir in 1990, said she had to overcome repeated threats from the military during her attempts to empower women in Pidie Jaya district.

“I set up an organization to help the women who were left in pain after losing their husbands, sons, fathers and brothers, to help them cope with their suffering,” Samiati said during the award ceremony in Jakarta.

The community group, the Aceh Integration Body that was established in 1999, however, was branded as a women’s separatist organization by the government.

“I was accused of being the leader of a women’s separatist group in 2001,” she said. “Whereas I was only trying to help the women and children in my region.”

Another recipient, Tinneke Pahua from Papua Province, said that it remained a struggle to empower women in Biak-Numfor district considering the recent history of extreme violence, where many women from her district were killed or suffered sexual abuse at the hands of the military during the Suharto era.

“The authoritarian New Order Regime forced all Papuans, especially women, to remain silent even though we were hurt so much by what they did,” Tinneke said, citing the July 6, 1998, Biak massacre where women and children were among those killed by the military, which then dumped the bodies at sea.

As in Aceh, Tinneke said that the violence increased when a local women’s community group — established to help women share and seek solutions to their problems — was accused of being a separatist group.

“During the New Order Regime, we were forced to remain silent, but when we entered the Reform Era and brought the truth to the public, they accused us of being separatists again.”

The third award winner, Netty Kalengkongan from Poso in Central Sulawesi Province, said that women faced a number of challenges in conflict areas, including depression and fears that their children could not continue their studies.

“Many women suffered depression when their children were forced out of school to help their mothers by working for money,” Netty said.

“And as mothers, we felt sick in our hearts whenever our children asked about how, why and who killed their fathers or brothers.”

Netty’s husband and father were allegedly kidnapped and killed by the military in 1998.

All three women said that the human rights violations committed against them and their loved ones remained unresolved to this day and the lack of justice and equality only added to their suffering.

Adding salt to their gaping wounds, Tinneke said that widows were stigmatized in Indonesian society as women who were sexual teasers and as those who could not protect their
marriages.

Azriana, head of Komnas Perempuan’s Recovery Unit, said that they supported these women’s local community organizations together with the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, by lobbying the government to give them access to educational, social, economic and political resources.

“They should be heard and today we remind ourselves of the never-ending struggle women too often face,” Azriana said.

Kartini Day recognizes the role women have played in national life.



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