Published: Jul 30, 2007


Wineng Endah

The women's crisis centre (WCC) Rifka Annisa opened here in Yogyakarta in 1993. At the time we were the only one in Indonesia. We were concerned about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual harassment, rape and violence against children. However, we decided to focus on violence against wives. We aim to educate the community about the nature of domestic violence, as it is often taboo and considered the province of the family alone.

Women who come to our office to seek help receive psychological counselling as well as legal advice and aid if needed. They can join a group where they meet with other women with similar experiences, to share and support one another. If necessary, the women are offered shelter.

Almost all come for help confused and without the knowledge of their husbands. They hear about the WCC from other women, as well as via seminars and workshops we conduct with other organisations. We also have a regular column in the Sunday edition of the local Yogyakarta newspaper, Kedaulatan Rakyat, where women write in for advice. Below the letter we invite women to contact us by phone.

They come to our centre from all backgrounds, however middle class and educated women can take greater advantage of our facilities. To reach out to village people, we have been working the last six months to set up a community-based centre in the Gunung Kidul area east of Yogyakarta. We bring together likely village leaders, both men and women, and try to gradually raise their awareness through discussions and workshops. At first we must disguise the issues in less confrontational terms, though of course we can talk about rape and sexual harassment, as all community members agree these are violations. We hope that eventually this group will be able to take initiative to intervene in cases of domestic violence in their village. This will be the first time something like this is tried in a village in Indonesia. If it is successful we hope to set up other groups like it.

We approached the police and hospitals in Yogya to try to get them to recognise the special needs of domestic violence victims. The police have been very cooperative and we have helped them establish special consultation rooms in police stations. The Panti Rapih Hospital in Yogyakarta now has a special unit for such women, where they can be transferred from other sections of the hospital. We used to have to scan newspapers for stories to find the women we should be helping. Now police and hospital staff contact Rifka Annisa for help with counselling.

Wineng Endah (rifka@yogya.wasantara.net.id), coordinator for community relations, (web www.rifka.annisa.or.id).

Inside Indonesia 66: Apr - Jun 2001