Indonesia - Social development

The constitution enjoins the government to protect the family and to provide for the needs of the "poor and the waifs," but implementation of these principles has proceeded slowly because of the cost and the lack of professional personnel to put into effect a broad welfare program. Various government departments are responsible for welfare activities: juvenile delinquents are under the care of the Ministry of Justice; child care and maternal health programs are part of the public health program; the Ministry of Labor has responsibility for enforcement of labor welfare legislation; and the Ministry of Social Affairs is concerned with narcotics traffic, exploitation of women and children, prostitution, and people unable to provide for themselves (particularly demobilized soldiers). There is nothing approximating a general public-assistance program in the Western sense, but the society is one in which family and clan relationships run strong. Some social security provisions exist. Firms with 10 or more employees or a payroll of one million rupiah or more a month paid 3.7% of their payroll (and employees paid 2% of earnings) for retirement, disability, and survivor benefits, and coverage is gradually being extended to smaller companies and casual workers. Employers pay 6% of payroll for married employees (3% for single employees) to provide sickness and maternity benefits, and both employers and employees fund a workers' compensation program. In addition, many orphanages, homes for the aged, youth activities, and private volunteer organizations meet special needs, in some cases receiving government subsidies.

Women are accorded the same legal rights as men and they enjoy a more favorable position in Indonesia than is customary in Muslim societies. This situation is largely the result of the work of Princess Raden Ajeng Kartini at the turn of the century in promoting the development of Javanese women. The movement for the emancipation of women preceded the nationalist movement by at least 10 years. Improvement of the status of women was specifically included in the guidelines for the 1979– 84 national economic plan. A Ministry of Women's Affairs was created to promote the economic and social welfare of women.

In spite of women's official equality, in practice they often find it hard to exercise their legal rights. Although they constitute roughly one quarter of the civil service, they occupy very few of its top posts. Marriage laws define the husband as the head of the family, and divorce procedures are much more difficult for a woman. Citizenship for a child is derived solely from the father. Female workers generally receive lower pay than that for men., Although maternity leave is mandated by law, many women lose their jobs as a result of pregnancy. Violence against women, especially domestic abuse remains a serious and widespread problem.

The economic crisis of the late 1990s took a toll on the welfare of the nation's children; infant mortality nearly doubled between 1995 and 1998. UNICEF estimates that eight million pre-schoolage children suffer from malnutrition.

Ethnic Chinese face considerable discrimination. There are restrictions on the rights of noncitizen Chinese to operate and own businesses. It is illegal to import Chinese language publications and the celebration of Chinese New Year is prohibited by law.

Gross violations of human rights in East Timor continue, including violence by pro-integration militias following a referendum in which a majority of Timorese voted for autonomy. Over 250,000 civilians fled the region to escape a wave of violence in which hundreds died. With the liberalization of Indonesia's government, human rights abuses decreased overall, although serious problems remain.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: