Indonesian woman persecuted for the 'shame' of being raped and pregnant
4 November 2010
Rhaya is a 19-year-old from a poor family in Sumatra. She stopped school when she was 16, deciding to look for work as a domestic worker.
Rhaya washed clothes in different houses while living at her sister Enny's house. Enny, is the fourth wife of Abang Setia, with whom she has a young child.
About three months after Rhaya started living at her sister's house, Rhaya was raped by Abang Setia. After he had raped her, Abang Setia told her not to tell anyone what had happened or she would be killed.
Three days later, Rhaya returned to her parents' house, not telling anyone what had happened. But six months later, when her pregnancy was obvious, she told her parents and her sister.
Rhaya's father reported the rape to the police, and Rhaya received some support, including from civil society organizations.
But when people in Rhaya's village learned she was pregnant as a result of rape, the people, including the head of village, said that they could not welcome her condition. Being pregnant without a husband, they said, would bring â??Aib' - shame - to the village.
Rhaya's father, wanting to protect his daughter, decided to move house, relocating far away so that Rhaya would feel safe from the villagers' intimidation. They eventually found a new place and waited for the baby to be born. But their new house was not comfortable. It had no windows and no ventilation and they had to use old boxes to sleep on.
Three months after they arrived at their new home, the people in their new village learned that Rhaya was pregnant without a husband, and that her pregnancy was the result of rape. As the local pressure mounted, their landlord asked them to leave.
Rhaya's parents, alarmed by the new turn of events just before she was due to give birth, desperately began looking for options. Fortunately, a representative from a civil society organization brought her case to the attention of a government crisis centre to help her arrange free medical care from the local general hospital.
Initially, there were problems because Rhaya had moved to the new village and did not have a local ID. However, in the end, Rhaya was able to get the care she needed and gave birth to a healthy baby girl by Caesarean section. Her baby was soon adopted.
Rhaya is now trying to rebuild her life and is considering the offer of another job as a domestic worker.
Amnesty International's work on sexual and reproductive health is part of its Demand Dignity campaign, calling for an end to the human rights violations that drive and deepen poverty.
The campaign mobilizes people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognize and protect their rights.
More on Indonesia :
Indonesia urged to block discriminatory pregnancy tests for schoolgirls
11 November 2010
Amnesty International today called on the Indonesian government to block discriminatory efforts to institute pregnancy and virginity tests for high school girls.
Media reports earlier this week say that the head of a vocational high school in Magetan, East Java, has forced students to undergo pregnancy tests as part of their eligibility to study.
The move follows attempts in September by a legislator in Central Sumatra to introduce virginity tests for female students.
â??These tests are not only intrusive and degrading but plainly discriminatory, as nowhere are men or boys subjected to any equivalent form of â??moral' testingâ??, said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International's Indonesia researcher.
The school reportedly plans to carry out pregnancy testing every year.
â??This is yet another example of how gender stereotyping and discrimination can stop Indonesian women from accessing their basic rights,â?? said Isabelle Arradon.
Amnesty International's November report Left Without a Choice: Barriers to Reproductive Health in Indonesia described a web of discriminatory laws and practices that deny Indonesian women who become pregnant outside marriage full access to maternal care and reproductive health.
Laws that restrict sexual and privacy rights have increased in recent years in Indonesia, largely due to political decentralisation. These include laws that criminalize consensual sex between adults, or punish unmarried adult men and women who are alone together (for example regulations on khalwat in Aceh province).
Women have been particularly vulnerable to these restrictions, due to gender-stereotyped views on sexuality, and because they can become pregnant. Pregnancy outside marriage can be interpreted as proof of a crime.
The overall context of restrictions of sexual and reproductive rights in Indonesia also put women and girls at risk of unwanted pregnancies, which can leave them vulnerable to a range of health problems and human rights violations, such as being forced to marry young or drop out of school.
Living free from violence is a human right. Yet millions of women and girls around the world encounter rape, domestic abuse, mutilation and other forms of gender-based violence. Too often no one is held accountable for these crimes. With your help, we can urge governments to hold perpetrators responsible and put an end to this cycle of violence against women. Take action to stop violence against women!
Thank you for taking action to support the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)! In this Action Kit, you will find background information and talking points on the I-VAWA, ways that you can take action no matter how much or little time you have available to you, and sample materials to get you started.
IVAWA has growing support in the House and the Senate. It also has the support of strong Congressional champions who are committed to passing the bill this year – but we need to keep IVAWA on the crowded political agenda, make it a priority for the United States Congress and secure votes in support of this important legislation. AN ACTIVIST PUSH IN SEPTEMBER IS CRITICAL!
Many of you have taken action on IVAWA in the past by visiting your members of Congress, sending letters, making calls and demonstrating support amongst constituents for ending violence against women globally. Just one phenomenal example is AIUSA Group 23’s work in Houston. They developed a letter thanking lead Republican co-sponsor Representative Ted Poe for his leadership and secured the signatures of 21 Houston based women’s organizations and domestic violence shelters (its included in this packet in case you would like to replicate that effort in your district). Don’t forget it is critical that we thank members of Congress who have cosponsored IVAWA and that we continue to urge those who haven’t cosponsored yet to support the bill!
Please take some time to go through the kit and decide which actions you would like to take. If you have any questions that are not addressed in the kit, please do not hesitate to contact the IVAWA team by emailing email@example.com. Please note this action kit is also available on our website at www.aiusa.org/ivawa.
Thanks to Amnesty activists’ pressure, we got IVAWA reintroduced this Congress, now lets pass it this Congress as well! Thank you for taking the time to support the International Violence Against Women Act.
Women’s Human Rights Advocacy Director
§ Every year, violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls. Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation occurring globally. It includes rape, domestic violence, women being beaten and killed by their husbands, human trafficking and more.
§ At least one in every three women globally has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Violence destabilizes countries, impedes economic progress, and prevents women from raising healthy children.
§ The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) creates a comprehensive, integrated approach to addressing violence and places women at the center of U.S. foreign policy. The bill supports measures to prevent violence, protect survivors and bring perpetrators to justice. It contains best practice provisions for preventing and responding to violence against women during times of peace and times of conflict.
§ The bill was introduced in the House and Senate during the 110th Congress and received bipartisan support.
§ In February 2010, a bipartisan team of Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas) re-introduced I-VAWA in the 111th Congress.
Specifically, I-VAWA would:
- Address violence against women and girls comprehensively, by supporting health, legal, economic, social, and humanitarian assistance sectors and incorporating violence prevention and response best practices into such programs.
- Alleviate poverty and increase the cost effectiveness of foreign assistance by investing in women.
- Define a clear mandate for Senior Officials in the Department of State and USAID for leadership, accountability and coordination in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
- Enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations.
- Build the effectiveness of overseas non-governmental organizations – particularly women’s non-governmental organizations – in addressing violence against women.
There are many ways you can take part in this action, depending on how much time, resources, and people you have. No action is too small!
• Take action online. Click here IVAWA online action http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14375
for a link to email your member of Congress, urging them to co-sponsor the I-VAWA and thanking those who have already co-sponsored!
• Write an opinion editorial, letter to the editor or blog post about the I-VAWA. Samples are included in this packet.
• Organize a call-in or letter writing campaign. Get your friends and relatives to flood the voicemail or mailbox of your member of Congress. Urge them to cosponsor the bill and support it when it comes to the floor. Is your member of Congress already an IVAWA cosponsor? Click here to see an up to date list of cosponsors. If your member of Congress is a cosponsor write and thank them for the support. Sample ‘please co-sponsor’ and ‘thank you’ letter templates are included in this packet.
Note: to find out who your member of Congress is, go to http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/
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International Violence Against Women Act of 2010
Violence Against Women in Armed Conflict
Like most violence that occurs in the course of armed conflict, violence against women is not accidental. It is a weapon of war, a tool used to achieve military objectives such as ethnic cleansing, spreading political terror, breaking the resistance of a community, rewarding soldiers, intimidation, or to extract information. Many forms of violence that women suffer during armed conflict are gender specific in both nature and result.
Violence against women in armed conflict situations is largely based on traditional views of women as property, and often as sexual objects. Around the world, women have long been attributed the role of transmitters of culture and symbols of nation or community. Violence directed against women is often considered an attack against the values or "honor" of a society and therefore a particularly potent tool of war. Women therefore experience armed conflicts as sexual objects, as presumed emblems of national and ethnic identity, and as female members of ethnic, racial, religious, or national groups. In Rwanda, up to half a million women were raped during the 1994 genocide. The numbers were as high as 60,000 in the war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Sierra Leone, the number of war-related sexual violence against women was as high as 64,000.1
The consequences for victims of sexual violence in war are grave and may affect women for the rest of their lives. These include serious and chronic medical problems, psychological damage, life-threatening diseases such as HIV/AIDS, forced pregnancy, infertility, stigmatization and/or rejection by family members and communities.