15 February 2011

A letter for Mr. President Yudhoyono

In memory of Indonesian Domestic Workers Day. We urge the Indonesian government: to establish a law for the protection on domestic workers, to vote for a Convention, supplemented by A Recommendation for domestic workers at the ILC in June 2011 in Geneva and to ratify the Convention Today is Indonesian Domestic Workers Day.


It is the day to remember the death of Sunarsih, a 14-year-old domestic worker who was assaulted by her employer into death in 2001, in the city of Surabaya. It is the day to remember, not only Sunarsih, but millions of Indonesian domestic workers who are under exploitation and abuses locally and abroad.

We urge the government of Indonesia to establish a national law to protect millions of domestic workers and cooperate with destination countries to ensure the protection of migrant domestic workers.

Indonesia is a country with one of the largest number of domestic workers in all Asia. This includes 10 million local domestic workers in Indonesia and six million migrant domestic workers abroad. Their work has been an integral part of thriving economies in the world. Every day, they work around the clock to send billions of remittance home. Yet, until now, Indonesian domestic workers remain the most exploited, by the malpractice of employment agencies, bad employers and discriminatory policies and society.

We urge the government of Indonesia, in cooperation with governments of destination countries, to take affirmative measures to stop the exploitation of domestic workers. We urge the governments especially to take measures to stop abusive practices by employment agencies. We urge the government of Indonesia to restart the discussion at its parliament on the draft law on the protection on domestic workers.

With the organizing and mobilizing effort of domestic workers around the world, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will have its second and last round of discussion on decent work for domestic workers in the coming International Labour Conference in June this year.

Tripartite bodies of its Member States will make a decision on the adoption of an ILO Convention supplemented by a Recommendation on domestic workers. Domestic workers are workers. They should enjoy equal rights as other workers do. We urge the government of Indonesia to vote “yes” on the adoption of the international instrument and ratify it as soon as it is adopted.

Domestic workers are large in number. Protection on domestic workers ensures protection for a big population and a just and harmonious society.

In Solidarity,

Mrytle Witbooi

Chair, International Domestic Workers Network (IDWN)

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