The abuse of Indonesia's migrant workers has been a problem from time immemorial. The reality is that Indonesia's migrant workers of the domestic servant kind are often thrown like lambs to the slaughter (for want of a better analogy) as they are under-skilled for the exploitation that they are about to be subject to. This has always had a high probability of ending badly for the migrant worker. Badly equates to, quite often, physical abuse at the hands of her employers, and sometimes worse.
case of Sumiati has once again brought this very cold hard reality home.
Sadly, the President, SBY, has decided that a viable option is to equip all migrant workers with a mobile phone and a list of Embassy and Consulate numbers, presumably pre-loaded.
You really do not want to be searching for a business card while getting beaten to within an inch of your life. This is sad because the suggestion so obviously fails to see the reality that any domestic servant fronting up with a visible mobile phone of their own is likely to have it confiscated by the employer, particularly if the employer is the abusive and controlling kind.
Then again, the populist president knows his constituents are watching, so he has to say something.
I have always believed that there were large numbers of Indonesians heading to foreign locales as migrant workers. And, based on this the percentage that were subject violence was relatively small in number. I was not of the impression that there was a majority of migrant workers that were subject to violence. I will now do a little research and see if I can track down some statistics on the level of abuse.
So, it is within this understanding I wonder whether it is possible to eradicate all instances of violence? I am not suggesting that the Indonesian government throw up its hands and say that the numbers of victims considering the sheer numbers of migrant workers is acceptable.
To the contrary, perhaps a more comprehensive, and validated, pre-departure training program needs to be enforced to ensure that those Indonesians heading overseas to work, not only have the job skills necessary to complete their work contracts, but also have sufficient language skills and knowledge of what to do, where to go, and how to navigate the processes when things go wrong.
I have read stories of Indonesian families who lock their domestic servants inside the house when they go out. So, I do wonder how the Indonesian government plans to deal with a similar scenario if it was to occur in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia. I am not convinced that a mobile phone, in and of itself, is the answer.