Ever since the economic crisis that hit Indonesia in 1997, the number of Indonesians in Wonosobo working abroad as migrant workers has drastically increased.
In December 2018, Justice Without Borders (JWB) began partnering with the KITA Institute in Wonosobo to expand access to compensation for migrant workers, even after they return home.
The KITA Institute was the first women’s rights organisation in Wonosobo to focus on migrant workers’ issues and human trafficking. Founded by Rumi, a social activist, the organisation also works for the empowerment of women and children, as the vulnerable groups most likely to fall victim to these problems.
Rumi describes the situation in Wonosobo as worrying. There are many cases of human trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers from Wonosobo working abroad. Her organisation has been handling migrant worker issues since 2015, not only in Wonosobo but in Cilacap, Pati and Semarang as well. KITA Institute’s staff also provide psychological support for affected workers, and accompany workers and their family members through every step of seeking redress.
Helping Kita Support Returning Workers
JWB conducted a training for KITA Institute to increase their capacity to handle migrant workers’ cases, particularly around claims that workers might still have in their former country of employment. The training enables them to assist workers to continue their case from home, without having to incur additional costs in transportation and accommodation. Ultimately, the increased support helps to empower victims to claim their legal rights.
“We never knew that there were so many ways to gather evidence!” exclaimed a participant, after learning that the Public Information Disclosure Act could be used to access a worker’s employment contract .
Another participant was surprised to learn that informal evidence such as photos taken at the workplace and diary entries could be used to strengthen their cases.
A month after the training, participants have reported that they are now much better equipped to handle migrant worker cases. One new client they identified had suffered physical violence while working in Singapore, and worked under employers who did not follow the original employment contract that the worker signed. KITA Institute was able to assist the client in returning to her hometown without having to pay the Indonesian employment agency.
This training was just the first step, and we look forward to continue working with the KITA Institute to ensure that migrant workers can still pursue compensation against those who exploited them, after returning home.