Jakarta, IO – Nukila Evanty, Executive Director of the Women Working Group (WWG) was born in Bagansiapiapi, Riau, and today is a known gender equality activist. She is an advocate for the rights of minorities, the marginalized and the vulnerable.
In a special interview with the Independent Observer, Nukila declared that the root of the problem with women’s rights is the patriarchy which dominates our country. “Patriarchy” is different from “patrilineal”, which is when a person’s lineage is traced through their father and the father’s family. “Patriarchy” implies a society centered on men, one where women are merely second-class citizens who exist only to give birth to and serve men. As such, women are not allowed to have desires and ambitions other than serving men, or to own anything in their name. Even in terms of food, housing, health and education, they must give way to men.
In such a society, women do not even have agency over their own bodies – they may not defend themselves from unwanted sexual attention, they may not choose who to marry, even though marriage is a great influence shaping their lives, and they will even be blamed for sexual assault when they are victims.
“Because of this view, there has been an active effort to hinder women from participating in any way in decision-making in society, even in matters that directly affect them. They are actively hindered from getting an education, earning their own money, holding public office, having a vote or owning property in their own name,” Nukila explained painfully.
As an activist who travels to Indonesia’s provinces, especially to regions that are pockets for migrant workers, Nukila found that many of our women have to struggle greatly in their lives because of this cruel system. These women are forced to take care of the house, their husbands, and their children…while having the burden of financing the household and giving financial support to their husbands as well. Even worse, they are unable to get proper jobs because their parents sacrificed their education in order to push their sons up. Their only choices for employment are prostitution, working as housekeepers or engaging in rough laborer abroad as migrant workers.
Not knowing the law and being forced by their own families, they frequently end up becoming illegal migrant workers, trapped by “employment” syndicates who smuggle them abroad, outside proper employment channels. They also frequently end up being victims of human trafficking. These remain at large because Indonesia’s law enforcement concerning labor exploitation and human trafficking is very weak. This is ironic, as Indonesia actually has a comprehensive legal framework to cover this issue, including the Human Rights Law and the Crime of Human Trafficking Eradication Law.