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The Jakarta Post
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Education campaigner Yanti Muchtar dies

  • Ati Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, November 19, 2015 | 05:12 pm
Education campaigner Yanti Muchtar dies

Darmiyanti Muchtar - JP

A leading campaigner for adult education, Darmiyanti Muchtar, passed away on Tuesday afternoon at Gading Pluit Hospital after a long battle with cancer. She was 53 years old and is survived by her son, Riddo Utama, and husband Kurniawan Yusdjam.

Yanti was buried on Wednesday at the Tanah Kusir cemetery in South Jakarta. A noted feminist who had been part of the country'€™s women'€™s movement since the 1980s, she was a cofounder of Solidaritas Perempuan or the Women'€™s Solidarity for Human Rights group, and later joined Kapal Perempuan or the Women'€™s Ship Institute, where she once served as a director.

Kapal represented her passion for alternative education targeting adults in disadvantaged and marginalized communities. In her last months, Yanti'€™s colleagues said she continued working on numerous projects including a women'€™s education module.

'€œThe doctor said she wasn'€™t allowed to work,'€ Missiyah from Kapal Perempuan said recently. '€œBut we told the doctor it was her work that made her happy.'€

Among her other passions was pushing for the passing of a draft law on domestic workers, in her capacity as a member of the Jala PRT advocacy network for domestic workers.

In a protest photograph she is seen grinning and holding a signboard featuring a drawing of colored boxer shorts with the words '€œKolor SBY yang nyuci PRT'€ (SBY'€™s boxers are washed by a maid), referring to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The draft has not yet been passed despite hunger strikes by a number of activists.

Yanti, a sociology graduate from the University of Indonesia, completed a PhD at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, late last year, with a thesis on local Islamic politics in West Nusa Tenggara, under the supervision of leftist sociologist Vedi R. Hadiz.

Her thesis also reflected her concern for identity politics based on ethnicity and religion, while she championed equal rights for minorities and the marginalized, including women and low-income people, as well as equal recognition for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and for interfaith couples.

The campaigner believed adult education was key to fighting illiteracy and promoting critical thinking.

Yanti was instrumental in the establishment of informal community-level schools such as Sekolah Perempuan Ciliwung on the banks of the Ciliwung River, aimed at making women more independent.

She also pushed for faster mainstreaming of gender equality and pluralism in government policies and programs.

Yanti'€™s illness highlighted the need for funds for ailing women human rights defenders. At a recent commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, the commission listed a number of women human rights advocates who had died, many from cancer, including Zohra Andi Baso of South Sulawesi.

Yanti had reported often waiting for hours to access one of the country'€™s few pieces of radiation equipment, at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital (RSCM). She said accessing health care was especially hard for outpatients from outside Jakarta, despite universal health coverage. (anr)

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