14 February 2011

Statement for Indonesia's Domestic Workers Day

On 15 February 2011 the death of 14-year old domestic worker Sunarsih ten years ago in Indonesia will be commemorated by women workers, migrant and local domestic workers, women’s rights advocates and labour support groups all over Asia.

Committee for Asian Women (CAW) joins JALA PRT, TUNAS MULIA and all domestic workers organisations in Indonesia in remembering Sunarsih, whose cruel death at the hands of her employers brought an early end to a promising life. Sunarsih is honoured in what is now known as Indonesia’s National Day for Domestic Workers.

The country’s domestic workers population has steadily increased by millions in the last decade notably in terms of domestic workers leaving Indonesia for work in the Middle East, East Asia and Europe.

None of them are legally protected under Indonesian law or international statutes. Hundreds of thousands of domestic workers continue to live in invisible, slave-like, and dangerous working conditions in Indonesia and abroad.

In the context of international efforts to adopt labour standards for domestic work through an ILO Convention, Indonesia’s government intended to discuss a possible national legislation in parliament but by the end of 2010 this has not reached its preliminary stages. Likewise in the ILO’s 99th session Indonesia did not support a Convention on Domestic Work citing effects to its economy.

As one of Asia’s largest population of employed domestic workers locally and overseas, Indonesia is in a unique position to lead the region towards a safe, secure and progressive working environment for millions of women working in households throughout the world.

In fact the overwhelming number of Indonesians affected by issues and concerns as domestic workers must constitute the highest national priorities. Hence the appeal for protective national legislation is not only relevant but urgent.

Committee for Asian Women and the Asian Domestic Workers Network likewise call on the Indonesian government to support the adoption of a comprehensive ILO Convention on Domestic Work at the 2011 Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva.

An international standard provides universal legal recognition of domestic workers rights wherever they are employed and therefore strengthens Indonesia’s protective mechanisms towards its citizens.

Committee for Asian Women and the Asian Domestic Workers Network strongly support domestic workers in their struggle for decent working conditions, safe and healthy occupational standards, their rights to sexual and reproductive health, and their right to organise. We salute the millions of working women who daily brave the turmoil of household labour and risking life and limb to provide for their families and their county’s economic stability.

In Solidarity,
Lucia Victor Jayaseelan
Executive Coordinator

*press release

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