19 July 2010

An Indonesian non-government organisation known as PEKKA, today launched the results of a research project through the publication, Access to Justice: Empowering Female Heads of Household in Indonesia. A copy of the report is available from www.pekka.or.id and www.familycourt.gov.au 

PEKKA (Pemberdayaan Perempuan Kepala Keluarga) was established in 2001 and works with over 12,000 female heads of household through a network of 500 PEKKA groups dispersed across 330 villages in 8 Indonesian Provinces, including NAD, West Java, Central Java, West Kalimantan, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara, North Maluku and Southeast Sulawesi.

Approximately 9 million (14%) of the 65 million households in Indonesia are headed by women.

The PEKKA research project was undertaken in collaboration with the Indonesian Supreme Court and SMERU research institute and was supported by the Family Court of Australia and the Australian Agency for International Development.

A list of the key report findings are attached in the fact sheet below.

The Chief Justice of the Indonesian Supreme Court, Bapak Harifin A. Tumpa, SH MH, commented in his keynote address that, “Access to justice for all is a fundamental principle of justice and is one of the key aspects of the Supreme Court of Indonesia’s new Blueprint for Reform of the Indonesian courts.”

The Family Court of Australia and AusAID are working with the Religious Courts of Indonesia to assist Muslim women, the poor and those living in remote areas to access Indonesia’s family courts.   It is estimated that over the last two years, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of poor people able to access the Religious Courts in Indonesia free of charge.  The majority of these poor people are women.

Access to the Religious Courts for divorce cases is important because it enables women to document their role as female heads of household, thus facilitating access to the Indonesian Government pro-poor programs such as cash transfers, free health treatment, subsidised rice or enrolment of children at state schools, and help break entrenched cycles of poverty in women-headed households.

Ibu Nani Zulminarni, National Coordinator of the PEKKA NGO stated, “The policies of the Indonesian Supreme Court concerning court fee waiver and circuit courts are critical for delivering justice to poor communities, like PEKKA.” 

The Honourable Diana Bryant, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia stated, “The Family Court of Australia has been honoured to work with the Religious Courts and PEKKA over the last five years to enhance access to the family law courts in Indonesia for women, the poor and those living in remote areas.

 “This work is fundamental if family law courts are to be accessible to all sections of the community and not just those who are well off, have high levels of education and live in urban centres close to where courts are situated.”

“The Indonesian courts and PEKKA NGO should be congratulated for their collaboration as the results outlined above demonstrate a significant improvement in access to justice for female heads of household.” Chief Justice Bryant added.

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55% of the 601 PEKKA survey respondents live below the Indonesian poverty line. One-third of these were unable to access Government of Indonesia poverty alleviation programmes such as cash transfer programs and free medical treatment programs (Jamkesmas).

  • Three out of every ten PEKKA respondents surveyed were married under the age of 16 (the legal age of marriage for women in Indonesia) and less than 50% had a legal marriage.
  • Nine out of ten PEKKA heads of household surveyed were unable to access the courts for their divorce cases. For the poor, the cost of court fees and transportation to the nearest court is perceived as an overwhelming barrier to accessing the courts. 88% of PEKKA respondents would be more motivated to obtain a legal divorce if the court fees were waived, similarly, 89% would be more motivated to obtain a legal divorce if a circuit court was held in a nearby town.
  • 79% of PEKKA members who were able to access the courts were either satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by the courts.
  • PEKKA members’ low economic status combined with low levels of literacy means that information and support for disadvantaged groups is critical for them to navigate court processes. However, as demonstrated through the collaboration of PEKKA and the Religious Courts, the information barrier for disadvantaged groups can be overcome through the work of court information desks and collaboration with NGOs.
  • 56% of children of PEKKA respondents did not have a birth certificate. Whether a child is able to complete the mandatory 9 years of education appears to be strongly linked to whether a child has a birth certificate.
  • Of the 601 PEKKA members surveyed, 24% never went to school and 34% never completed primary school. The educational attainment of dependants of PEKKA women also fall well below national standards.
  • The total cost of educating a child at junior and senior high school exceeds the average per capita income in a PEKKA household that would notionally be allocated to meet the day-to-day needs of that child. For children of female heads of household, the completion of the mandated nine years of education is far from a reality.
  • PEKKA members will educate their sons over their daughters by a factor of 3:1 if forced to make a choice because of household income constraints. 

A copy of the report, Access to Justice: Empowering Female Heads of Household in Indonesia, is available from www.pekka.or.id  and www.familycourt.gov.au.