Call Indonesian Migrant Workers Cultural Representatives, Not Remittance Heroes

by Kartika Pratiwi August 11, 2015

According to the Global Slavery Index in 2014, the number of victims of modern slavery worldwide went up 300% from the previous year. Research by the Walk Free Foundation (WFF, Australia) in 2013 has stated Indonesia as being one of 114 countries around the world that practices modern slavery and that there were an estimated 210,000 Indonesians who were working in conditions equating to slavery in foreign countries.

Indonesian NGO Migrant Care reported that in 2013 alone, there were 398,270 cases of violations against migrant workers from the 6.5 million Indonesians who were working abroad, 84% of which are women workers.

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To further highlight these cases of abuse and exploitation, we collaborated with the Alam Tara Institute to organise a screening of Crossroads, our advocacy video collection which includes several videos telling the stories of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.

The event was held on 29 July at Kedai Kalikuma in Mataram, and invited to participate in the post-screening discussion were Endang Susilowati, who has been an activist for migrant workers in Lombok since 2004, Paox Iben Mudhaffar, a cultural activist, novelist and researcher who focuses on issues pertaining to Lombok, and Rangga Babuju, who was moderating.

Reflecting on the many testimonies that were in the films, Endang Susilowati said that those were all factual representations of what migrant workers went through. Working abroad with a paspor melancong (tourist passport) was among the most common reasons for the issues they faced. “As tourists, they can’t stay there for a long time but it is the easiest way they can get there”, Endang added.

"The government has to start using the term 'cultural representatives' instead of 'remittance hero', as what they do is associated with the dignity of the country. They have to be more appreciated and treated righteously”, said Paox Iben.

Crossroads is a video advocacy initiative aimed at developing and strengthening the advocacy and documentation capacity of migrant workers, refugees and stateless persons and their support organisations. Watch the entire collection here.