Domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times
Domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

Activist groups have pointed out that substantial numbers of Indonesian migrant workers are still targets of abuse despite new laws.

Anis Hidayah of nonprofit organization Migrant Care said many migrant workers are vulnerable to abuse, VOA News reported. She also said that workers are not properly prepped before they leave their countries. She added that workers should be provided with education about where they should go and what actions to take if they encounter difficulties or abuse.

Hidayah also added that while new regulations and laws can seemingly minimize the vulnerability of migrant workers, implementation or enforcement of the same rules can be lax or non-existent.

In 2018, Indonesia sent more than 200,000 workers to countries including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Indonesian National Agency for the Protection and Placement of Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) says there are about 4.5 million Indonesian migrant workers. The majority are in the domestic sector and 70% of them are women.

Nusron Wahid of the BNP2TKI disputed the criticism, saying the government has been providing workers with essential information before they depart. He also argued that embassies and consulates can be found easily in case of any complaints.

Wahid did acknowledge the special case of Saudi Arabia, given the culture of the country and the fact that females have to stay home almost to the point of being reclusive.

A one-channel system that will tie workers to recruitment companies in contracts is also being devised by the government, said Wahid.

The discussion of worker rights was put in the spotlight since the execution of Tuti Tursilawati in Saudi Arabia in October. Tuti reportedly killed her employer in self-defense while allegedly being abused.