GO.KOMPAS.com - Sugiarsi, an 81-year-old woman, has been providing assistance to victims of violence against women and children in Sragen District, Central Java, Indonesia for 20 years.
She has helped resolve a total of 701 cases, with the majority of cases involving domestic violence, amounting to 443 cases.
Sugiarsi provides psychological and legal support, acts as a therapist, and assists in problem-solving, including helping the police to handle cases of violence against women.
Sugiarsi is an inspiration to us all, proving that age should never be a limiting factor. At the remarkable age of 62, she founded Aliansi Peduli Perempuan Sukowati (APPS) in Sragen, an organization devoted to empowering women.
Her previous experience at the National Population and Family Planning Agency provided her with valuable skills that she utilized in her work at APPS.
Sugiarsi's unwavering dedication paid off on October 1, 2004, when APPS was established, and it has since made a tremendously positive impact on the lives of women in the Sragen region, located roughly 40 kilometers from Solo.
Sugiarsi who is familiarly called Mami, now 81 years old, is renowned for her unwavering commitment towards helping victims of violence against women and children.
She takes on almost all cases, including domestic violence, rape, human trafficking, and child pornography, and provides essential assistance to the victims.
Mami vividly recalls that the first case in which APPS provided assistance was related to domestic violence (KDRT) in 2005.
This case was deemed successful, and as a reult, APPS was entrusted with handling various cases of violence against women and children.
Over the course of her 20-year tenure at APPS, Mami has effectively assisted in a total of 443 domestic violence cases, 83 rape cases, 145 sexual abuse cases, 6 human trafficking cases, 20 bullying cases, and 2 pornography cases.
APPS upholds the values of rehabilitating, reintegrating, and refunctionalizing victims of violence against women and children.
“These values are essential in empowering survivors and preventing recurring violence,” said Sugiarsi.
As a non-governmental organization, APPS relies solely on self-sustenance as they receive minimal funding from the government.
Although they have received funding in the past, most of their financial support comes from Corporate Social Responsibility assistance from companies that share their vision.
However, due to insufficient funding, the administrators of APPS often have to make personal sacrifices and dedicate their own time and resources to keep the organization running.
One of Sugiarsi's most memorable cases was when she accompanied a junior high school student who was stripped naked because she was accused of stealing in early January 2016.
At that time, Sugiarsi was at her daughter's house in Semarang, Central Java. Suddenly, she received a phone call from Mursito, the head of the Human Rights Enforcement Committee (KOMPAK HAM) from Sragen.
With a trembling voice, Mursito told the story of a child who stole used clothes and sandals and was paraded and stripped naked around the village.
"If it wasn't Mami who took care of it, it wouldn't have happened," Mursito quoted Sugiarsi as saying.
Sugiarsi had a rush of emotions and immediately headed home. Despite the 100-kilometer distance from Semarang to Sragen, she rode on the back of her son's black Megapro motorcycle.
For her, it was a matter of humanity that she couldn't ignore, even at the age of 75.
The next day, Sugiarsi went to D's house, which was 20 minutes away from hers. There were already many people gathered there, including neighbors, human rights activists, government officials, police, and journalists.
It had been two days since the incident, but no action had been taken yet. Everyone was eagerly waiting for Mami's arrival.
She saw D, the girl who had been paraded and stripped naked, sitting listlessly. Her tears did not stop flowing. Sugiarsi went over and sat next to the girl. She hugged and stroked D.
After D calmed down, Mami Sugiarsi expressed her intention to provide assistance, both for psychological recovery and legal aspects. She also gave a letter of authorization for D's family to sign.
After that, Sugiarsi, D and her family went to Sragen Police Station to report the incident two days earlier and to make a Minutes of Investigation (BAP).
"D is now living peacefully. She moved with her brother to Kalimantan," said Mami, remembering the girl she helped.
As a person who stands for humanity, Mami faces many challenges. One that she often receives is threats, both veiled and overt threats.
Most of the threats come from parties who do not like Mami to interfere in their affairs, for example, the husband of a domestic violence victim who feels that domestic violence is a family affair.
"Very often Mami is threatened with death and harm, but Mami is not afraid," she said.
Some of the victims of violence she protects have to live in a shelter or safe house, which is not far from her private residence.
Some of them are rape victims who were forced to get pregnant. There have been at least 21 children of rape victims from cases that Mami has helped. Some of them were named by Mami.
Mami believed that survivors of domestic violence needed to be economically empowered after going through the rehabilitation, reintegration, and refunctionalization process.
In 2009, the idea of creating economic independence for these survivors became stronger. APPS was fortunate enough to receive entrepreneurial training assistance from the Central Java Social Service, which involved these survivors.
Sugiarsi formed the Paguyuban Perempuan Penyintas Sukowati (P3S) after discussing with all APPS administrators.
The organization involved 60 survivors who had received assistance from APPS. Several training sessions were held, including entrepreneurial training in early 2009, as well as cooking, handicrafts from recycled materials, and woven bag making training.
"We utilize survivors who have the skills to teach others. So those who can cook teach others to cook, those who can sew teach others to sew, and so on. Because our budget is limited," said the woman who was once active in the field of women's empowerment.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought P3S activities to a halt due to the inability to meet face to face. It wasn't until 2023 that P3S began to reconvene and collaborate.
Initially, P3S received extensive support upon establishment. In 2010, the Social Service of the Central Java Provincial Government provided business tools for making chips.
In 2011, the Sragen Regency Government, through the Social Service, provided materials to make bread. P3S also received assistance from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) companies to help its members run the organization independently and maintain economic stability.
Based on the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on Women, Peace and Security (ASEAN RPA on WPS), Sugiarsi is implementing 4 main pillars of the women, peace and security agenda – women’s protection, participation, prevention, and relief and recovery.
The regional plan of action was adopted by the ASEAN Leaders during the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits in November 2022 as a key deliverable during the term of Cambodia as ASEAN Chair.
It outlines ways to implement the four main pillars of the women, peace and security agenda – women’s protection, participation, prevention, and relief and recovery – along with implementation, coordination, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation.
It is meant to advance commitments to the women’s peace and security agenda and turn them into action.
H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia, said “the development of the ASEAN RPA on WPS is a major step forward to fulfill ASEAN's vision in achieving gender equality. Promoting women’s roles and participation across all realms of peace and security ranging from conflict prevention, peace building, preventing violent extremism and tackling emerging security risks such as disaster and pandemics in the region is imperative to reach our goal as inclusive and people-centered Community. ASEAN is committed to continue to forge ahead with advancing WPS agenda and the ASEAN RPA on WPS will guide our ways."
The regional plan of action is a major step forward in ASEAN’s efforts to ensure that its ten Member States recognise and leverage women’s participation and leadership in preventing conflict and building and in maintaining peace in the region.
Previous efforts include the Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in 2017; the launch of ASEAN Women for Peace Registry in 2018; and the ASEAN Regional Study on Women, Peace and Security in 2021. All three milestones were supported by USAID and UN Women.
Even though she doesn't understand the meaning of RPA WPS, Sugiarsi has already implemented it.
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