News Update

Indonesia Aims To Protect Domestic Workers With New Bill

Indonesia, the largest democracy in the world without a law to protect its domestic workers, may soon
change that with a new bill. This bill aims to improve the rights of millions of Indonesians working
overseas, particularly in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore. With almost 5 million domestic staff
working in South-East Asia’s largest economy, these workers form the invisible backbone of the country.
They provide care for upper-middle-class homes and allow richer Indonesians to pursue more lucrative
careers. However, domestic workers are often physically and socially isolated, which leaves them
vulnerable to exploitation, assault, and modern slavery.

The Domestic Workers Protection Bill, which President Joko Widodo aims to pass into law this month, is
designed to provide household employees, three-quarters of whom are women, with more rights similar
to those of formal workers. While this is a positive step towards improving the lives of domestic workers,
the bill does not extend these protections to all domestic workers in the country.

According to Lita Anggraini, Indonesia’s leading activist on domestic workers’ rights, not having the
Domestic Workers Protection Bill in place could entrench slavery in the country. She views the bill as an
essential protection against the perception that “anything is acceptable for a domestic worker.” This
perception has led to many domestic workers being subjected to long working hours, low wages, and
physical and emotional abuse, all without any legal recourse.