For the second year, women-and men- gathered in the hundreds on Saturday, 3 March, to rally across Central Jakarta demanding equal rights for women around the country. Initiated by rights groups in the lead up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, this year’s event highlighted eight main issues, and saw a stronger,more diverse turnout.
Participants gathered outside Sari Pan Pacific Hotel and expressed their message via this year’s theme, #LAWANBERSAMA (#FIGHTTOGETHER) during the march to Taman Aspirasi at the National Monument.
Through speeches, leaders of various organisations and committees called for attention to eight major demands including eliminating discriminatory policies, endorsing various laws and policies, ensuring and providing assistance to victims of violence and an end to state interference over women’s choices. In addition there were demands for eliminating stigma, discrimination, and an end to gender-based violence.
Marches were held in seven cities across Indonesia including Bali, Bandung, and Surabaya. In Jakarta, the turnout was solid evidence that the situation of women was not unique to the capital. Women and other minority groups’ stated mission “Enough is Enough” resonated nationwide.
According to the National Commission of Women (Komnas Perempuan), around 173 women and girls were killed in 2017, 95 percent of those deaths occurred as a result of gender-based violence. Patriarchal culture still exists in Indonesia as demonstrated by the number of cases of forced marriage and related issues of gender-based discrimination, leading to general inequality in the social, employment and political spheres.
At the policy level, the protesters called for the ratification of the Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence and the Household Domestic Workers Bill. The group also criticised the draft Criminal Code (KUHP) which it considered problematic, in particular in the articles on adultery and the ban on the distribution of contraceptives and reproductive health education.
Similar to last year’s protest, the Women’s March was a collective gathering of people who have faced multiple obstacles including differently abled individuals. Handmade posters and other group identity markers turned the march into a vibrant show of colour with domestic workers wearing red t shirts, and members of the LGBTQ groups (who are often politicised during election years) waving rainbow flags.