Hollaback! Jakarta working to end harassment against women

“I was walking to work, like I do every morning. There was a man on a motorbike at the end of the street. As I walked pass him, he grabbed my breasts and sped off.” This is a quote from one of the many stories featured on Hollaback! Jakarta’s website.

Sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence remain a serious issue for women in Indonesia. According to the National Commission on Violence Against Women’s Annual Report, there were more than 400 000 reported cases of violence against women in 2019, of which 28% were in public spaces. Public facilities, public transport and streets have become places where women do not feel safe and secure.

Hollaback! Jakarta is part of the global movement to end harassment in public spaces. In its quest to create safer spaces for women in the city, Hollaback! Jakarta works with ride-hailing app companies, public transport services, schools and campuses to provide training on gender-based violence.

“By training motorbike taxi drivers, they are not only able to understand forms of harassment, but also take an active part in intervening against harassment they see in public spaces,” said Noval Auliady, Co-Director of Hollaback! Jakarta. In Jakarta, where streets are filled with motorbike taxis, this is incredibly important.

Currently, women do not have full legal protection from gender-based violence. While there are laws that exist, gaps still remain. The Draft Bill on the Elimination of Sexual Violence was set to fill the gap, with an expanded definition of sexual violence and a focus on protection and victim restitution.

For several weeks in September 2019, students, activists and young people took to the streets of major cities in Indonesia to demand the passing of the draft bill. Hollaback! Jakarta was part of the core team for the campaign, creating a social media buzz, mobilizing people and meeting with parliamentarians.

Unfortunately, the draft bill was not passed in the last parliamentary sitting as conservative groups strongly argued against the clauses on the criminalization of marital rape. It is notable that the bill is still included in this year’s priority list of the national legislation programme. The massive support from civil society groups for the bill does increase its likelihood of passing and brings hope to the fight for ending gender-based violence in Indonesia.

The Internet has become a great ally for the movement. Not only was social media vital in mobilizing people to support the draft bill, it has also been a powerful platform to spread the important message of ending violence against women.

On its website, Hollaback! Jakarta encourages people to share their stories, showing how widespread, serious and familiar experiences of violence are for women. Like the quote above, people share personal experiences and some share cases they have witnessed as bystanders.

The Hollaback! Jakarta website has posted more than 300 stories of women experiencing various forms of gender-based violence, from catcalling to abuse. With each story posted, others can show their solidarity by clicking “I’ve got your back”. With its website and social media presence, Hollaback! Jakarta recognizes the potential to create a virtual safe space for women experiencing such issues.

“The more stories there are, the more people are willing to speak up and show their support. More bystanders are willing to intervene when seeing it first-hand. This is what we hope to achieve,” said Mr Auliady.

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