LRCKJHAM: Rights-based work at community level
LegalResources Centre - UNTUK KEADILAN JENDER DAN HAK ASASI MANUSIA (LRCKJHAM SEMARANG) works in Central Java and campaigns for an understanding and awareness of the values of gender equality and human rights. LRC-KJHAM applies a rights-based approach in its work to achieve its missions of promoting the respect, protection and fulfillment of women’s rights in the region, including that of female migrant workers.
LRC has been strong in its right based approach and its community work – how do you ensure a rights-based work at community level?
A rights-based approach ensures the rights of all groups, including women and marginal communities, to demand justice for the human rights violations they have suffered. To realize this, LRC - KJHAM facilitates the empowerment and genuine participation of female victims of human trafficking to have a voice in determining the government policies that impact them. This is what is meant by "giving a voice to people who have no voice.”
Moreover, a rights-based approach in our work also requires increasing the government’s capability or capacity to realize its obligations and responsibilities under international human rights law. Work done by LRC - KJHAM at the community level strives to increase the knowledge and ability of local governments in listening and working with female migrant workers and women victims of trafficking to ensure the protection of women’s rights.
To ensure a rights-based approach is adopted in our work, we continuously reflect on our work and develop our staff’s knowledge through capacity development training. Furthermore, we ensure women’s involvement and control through-out the planning and implementing stages of all our programs. We empower them to speak up and ensure there are spaces for their voices to be heard when government formulates policies.
Over the years, Feminist Participatory Action Research has been an effective instrument for LRC-KJHAM to organize, empower, and promote women's participation in fighting for their rights (the right to medical care, the right for protection and legal assistance, and the right to social reintegration services).
What challenges do you face in your legal literacy work in the community?
One of the biggest challenges we face is from the government. Since the issue of women's rights violations, including those of women migrant workers and victims of human trafficking, are not considered a priority development issue, the commitment from local government remains low. By example, 75-80% of the current budget is allocated to salaries and allowances of government officials while only a minimal amount is allocated to enforcing the rights of women migrant workers and victims of human trafficking. Further, government planning and budgeting does not provide equal opportunities for women, ex-migrant workers, trafficking survivors or other such groups to participate and determine policies that impact their lives.
What changes have you seen in the lives of women, including migrant women in the communities you work with?
There is an emerging awareness among the women about gender inequality and a growing interest and knowledge concerning their rights and existing laws. Furthermore, the women are becoming more involved in policy, planning and budget decisions with the local government and attend annual Development Planning Meetings (District and City). They also conduct hearings with the local parliament to ensure that any proposals they have made are adopted by the local government. We have seen some improvement in victim support services and there is now an integrated centre for abused women, including migrant workers and victims of human trafficking.
In the rural areas, two new groups of former female migrant workers and victims of trafficking have been formed: Migrant Groups Wedoro in Grobogam, Peribumi (Society of Women Migrant Workers) in Kendal and SEKARTAJI Survivor Organisation in Semarang, Central Java. Outside of these formal groups, former female migrant workers and victims of human trafficking continue to support one another. For example, some are working to increase the income of former women migrant workers and victims of human trafficking through a Women’s Cooperative which has established microfinance and a small shop. Others have established community information centres to disseminate information on safe migration, the rights of women migrant workers and how to act if they experience violence and/or human trafficking.
Like the survivors who established SEKARTAJI in Semerang, many survivors of trafficking are providing direct assistance to other victims of trafficking and/or migrant workers who have experienced violence. Many are becoming paralegals and also handle other cases of violence against women, such as rape and domestic violence, in the region. Each paralegal in the district handles on average 20-40 cases.
How do you work with other like-minded networks, such as trade unions? How do your networks help in your work?
LRC-KJHAM is constantly strengthening and developing its network locally, nationally, regionally and internationally. At the local and national level, we have built a strong network with trade unions such as the National Workers Union (SPN), the Federation of Indonesian (FSPI) and the United Domestic Workers.
Together we fight for the rights of women workers in the areas of minimum salary, leave, reproductive health, and rape and sexual harassment in the workplace. We also work alongside them in cases of women who have experience gender-based violence, including forced abortion domestic violence and rape in dating. We also jointly advocate for domestic workers who have experienced violence from their employers.