Women and activists gather outside the Saudi embassy in Jakarta in this March 2 photo to demand the Saudi government protect Indonesian migrant workers (ucanews.com photo)
Indonesian church official and activists have accused the government of failing to enforce a ban on migrant workers heading to Middle East countries.
The criticism comes after recent reports emerged that Saudi Arabian authorities had detained about 300 female Indonesian workers in Riyadh since January for reasons that remain unclear.
The Indonesian government introduced a temporary ban in June 2011 following a series of executions of Indonesian migrant workers and many reported abuse cases, the majority of which involved female domestic workers being sexually, physically or psychologically abused by their employers. Other cases involved workers being treated like slaves.
A more conclusive ban involving 21 countries was introduced in 2015 after Saudi Arabia executed two Indonesian maids without prior notice
Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ commission for justice, peace and pastoral for migrant people said the government simply has not bothered to implement the ban.
Brokers are flouting the ban and still sending Indonesian women to the Middle-East, he said.
"The arrest of so many people is proof our country is not enforcing the ban the way it should be enforced. It shows a clear lack of control," he told ucanews.com.
More than 700,000 Indonesians are working in Saudi Arabia, according to government figures.
Father Siswantoko said women are going there to help their poor families and many must be in the country illegally. The government must be proactive in trying to protect them.
Wahyu Susilo, executive director of Migrant CARE urged the Indonesia government to investigate the 300 arrests.
"Some of them have been tortured," he alleged.
….As we enter the first months of 2022, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.