The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of people of all genders took to the streets on International Women’s Day in Jakarta on Sunday to demand that the government put a stop to systemic violence against women.
Protesters gathered at the Elections Supervisory Agency headquarters in Central Jakarta and marched from there to the nearby State Palace. They carried flags and posters with various messages such as “Let’s smash the heteropatriarchy”, “I hate patriarchy, not men”, and “Pass the sexual violence bill, reject the job creation omnibus law”.
“Today we’re not just celebrating the annual International Women’s Day. Today we’re asking the state to fulfill women’s rights that have been ignored for too long,” Lini Zurlia, coordinator of the Women’s Movement against Violence Alliance (Gerak Perempuan), said in front of the crowd.
She said that violence against women was rooted in the patriarchal values embedded in the government and its policies. “The state is the perpetrator; they legitimize violence against women through repressive regulations such as the family resilience bill and the job creation omnibus bill”.
Women participate in the international women's day 2020 in Sarinah, Central Jakarta, on Sunday 8 March 2020. (JP/Donny Fernando)
Gerak Perempuan’s demands include the establishment of a system to protect women, the passing of pro-women laws, the revocation of discriminatory regulations, the rejection of bills that threaten women’s rights and the recognition of gender diversity.
Sujirah, a 52-year-old worker who came from Tangerang, Banten, to join the rally, said she was there to fight the omnibus law, which she believed posed a particular threat to women workers.
“The protection for women laborers is already lacking. With the omnibus law […]. We’re getting more alienated,” she said.
Zakwannur, one of the many male protesters, said that it was important for men to support the rally. “Most of the perpetrators of violence are men. Therefore, we need men to act as allies by spreading awareness to more men to stop violence against women,” he said.
Another protester, Novi Yani, 36, said she joined the rally to speak up about gender equality. “I hope more women are able to speak up and stand up for themselves. I also hope women are aware of their potential,” she said. (aly)