Latest Entries »

Sports journalist Wieta Rachmatia has been using Transjakarta, the capital city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, since 2010. Most of the time, she takes the Corridor 9, a route that links Pinang Ranti in East Jakarta to Pluit in North Jakarta. As a woman, she had felt that the bus system was fine – that is until she became heavily pregnant.

“Pregnant women can’t get into the bus through separate door, especially at Pinang Ranti bus station, because the Transjakarta officers almost never open that door,” says Rachmatia, who gave birth last month.

“I had to jostle with other passengers to enter the bus,” she says. The officers who are supposed to open the separate access door for pregnant women never really paid attention to the passengers, whether there was a pregnant woman or not, so the door remained shut, she adds.

First coming into operation 13 years ago, the Transjakarta Busway system was one of Jakarta administration’s initiative to solve the problem of low quality public transport. The BRT system was built with the purpose that people can use public transportation comfortably and safely. But a closer look at the system and interviews with passengers and transport and urban experts show that in many aspects the system still caters mainly to the needs and experiences of working men.

There is a misperception that transport infrastructure and services are “gender neutral” and automatically benefit men and women in equal measures. However, studies show that women and men have different transportation needs. In addition, women often face barriers when using public transport.


Pregnant women are not the only ones feeling the inconvenience of Transjakarta’s crowded but.

Elisa Sutanudjaja, an urbanist who works at Ruang Jakarta Center For Urban Studies (RUJAK), relates her own experience: “I got on the Semanggi bus stop. It was very crowded at time. Although the bus arrived every two to three minutes during rush hour, it was always packed with people.”

“Transjakarta operator established the tap-in and tap-out card system to find out which are the most crowded bus routes. But why hasn’t this led to the provision of more buses and the expansion of bus stations?” she asks.

Another important facility not provided by the Transjakarta system is restroom. There are no toilets at all the bus stops along Corridor 9. In fact, there is no mandatory requirement for transportation authority to provide toilets.

Toilet is an undeniably essential component to create a comfortable city for all. As people spend more time in public places, they will need private space to address the basic needs of the human body. For women, the demands of their physiological conditions are even more urgent. Pregnant women urinate more frequently. While on period, women use toilet more often to check on or change their menstrual pads.

Udayalaksmanakartiyasa Halim, an urban transport planner who works at the Institute For Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), tells me that although providing public toilets on Transjakarta bus stations is a good idea, it may not be translated well into reality.

“It is fair to build public toilets, but it should come with an extraordinary effort from the company,” he says.

“We know how poor the condition of public toilets in Jakarta is – or anywhere in Indonesia. If they are not committed to keeping well-maintained toilets, then it is probably best not to have them in the first place,” he says.

In addition, he adds, toilets need water supply and it can be difficult to install the pipes to the bus stations, which are located on streets’ medians.


In March 2016, Thomson Reuters Foundation Institute and YouGov survey agency, released a list of cities with the most dangerous transport system for women. According to these survey, Jakarta ranks fifth as the city with the most dangerous transport system for women in the world.

One of the efforts that has been done to make Transjakarta bus ride safer for women is by creating women-only space in the bus. Anna Gultom, an employee at a Jakarta-based TV station has been using Transjakarta for three years. She says that she feels that Transjakarta has accommodated women’s need.

“In each bus now there’s a designated area for women. Also, there are special buses for female passengers,” she says.

University student Agatha Danastri says she feels safer after Transjakarta operator provides women-only area.

“The Transjakarta officers firmly prevents men from occupying designated area for women. I find that Transjakarta is more women friendly compared to the commuter line,” she says, referring to the train system connecting Jakarta to its many suburbs.

However, based on my personal observation, such policy is not strictly applied to the rest of the bus. For example, women who travel with their husband and children prefer to occupy the “mixed area” (in the back of the bus). Transjakarta officers do not usually prevent women from occupying this area. Though the women-only part is designated for women only, there is no sign for what is by default, the men’s section.

In a sense, the problem of sexual harassment is reduced to being a problem that can be prevented by separating women from men. This, of course, is a wrong assumption.

Elisa says that despite the separation, sexual harassment continues to occur in the bus. It all goes back to the fact that there are not enough busses to accommodate the massive volume of passengers.

“Sexual harassment occurs when a bus is very packed with passengers, right? There aren’t many buses so that people don’t have other choice, but riding a very crowded bus. In a packed bus, there would be greater risks of sexual abuse. If the bus is not too crowded, people can keep an eye on each other.”

Lighting is also an important issue, particularly in Transjakarta bus stops. Improving lighting in public places could serve many purposes, one of them is prevention of crime. Security affects both men and women but women have a higher risk of being crime victims. Based on my personal observation, the majority of elevated bridges, which also functioned as pedestrian bridges, are not well illuminated. Also, only small number of them are equipped with CCTV.


Why are some elevated bridges equipped with CCTV, while others aren’t? And why are some Transjakarta bus stops well lighted while others aren’t?

Halim says that before January 2014, Transjakarta institutional status was city government agency under Jakarta Transportation Agency. Starting January 2014, however, its status changed to city-owned enterprise. With the change of this institutional status, Jakarta Transportation Agency must hand over all assets to PT Transjakarta, including the pedestrian crossing bridges. However, the asset-transferring process needs time. Consequently, PT Transjakarta cannot do anything about elevated bridges that are not equipped with CCTV, because it is not their responsibility.

Improving Transjakarta

All of these are evidence that Transjakarta facilities have not fully accommodating to women’s need.  Elisa also points out that to many women riding Transjakarta bus: there is not enough space to put things.

“Women often carry things. For those who work, they carry shoes and lunch box. On some particular routes that pass shopping centers, many women carry shopping bag. I have suggested that Transjakarta operator creates upper deck compartment”, she says.

Asked what other things should be provided by  Transjakarta operator, she suggests an elevator at certain bus stops to accommodate pregnant women, the elderly and differently-abled people. In addition, she believes that big stations should provide toilets and small clinics

“I have seen a passenger who fainted because of excessively long waiting time at bus stops,” she says.

Making Transjakarta bus rides safer and more convenient for women can be the first step towards making Jakarta a more humane city for all its citizens.


This story has been published in  . You can see the original version here. Pictures is mine.




Kopi Darat di Semarang

Desember lalu, saya memutuskan pergi ke Semarang sekaligus “kopi darat” dengan Nana Podungge, atau cukup dipanggil mbak Nana. Saya mengenalnya sejak kami masih memiliki akun friendster, tepatnya pada tahun 2004. Ketertarikan terhadap isu isu kesetaraan jender membuat kami “nyambung” saat berdiskusi. Sulit untuk mencari teman yang paham dengan isu ini, bahkan teman perempuan sekalipun.

Selama di Semarang, saya menginap di kamar kost Ranz, temannya mbak Nana. Mereka berdua-lah yang menjadi guide saya selama disana. Jarak antara satu tempat wisata ke tempat wisata lainnya di Semarang tidak terlalu jauh, oleh karena itulah kami memutuskan untuk bersepeda.



Mbak Nana dan Saya


Kami mengunjungi beberapa tempat di kota Semarang, diantaranya sebagai berikut :

  1. Klenteng Sam Poo Kong





2. Klenteng Tay Kak Sie




3. Lawang Sewu



Mbak Nana, Ranz, dan Saya


4. Kota Tua Semarang


Gereja Blenduk


Pabrik Rokok Praoe Lajar




5. Wihara Avalokiteswara


Sleeping Budha


Selain mengunjungi tempat tempat di atas, kami juga tidak lupa untuk berwisata kuliner.Harga makanan pinggir jalan di Semarang lebih murah ketimbang di Jabodetabek. Ini beberapa makanan yang kami coba.

tahu gimbal

Tahu Gimbal

mie kopyok

Mie Kopyok


Sebenarnya, saya berkeinginan untuk berkunjung ke Ambarawa untuk melihat Museum Kereta Api. Akan tetapi berhubung jatah cuti saya terbatas dan jarak dari Semarang terlalu jauh (kurang lebih 35 km), saya harus membatalkan niat itu. Ada yang pernah berkunjung ke Ambarawa ?

Six months after the collapse of the New Order regime in May 1998, students and civil society groups took to the streets to protest against the Special Session of the People’s Consultative Assembly, calling it unconstitutional and  a way to preserve the status quo. The protests soon turned into what will later be called the “Semanggi Tragedy”, named after the four-leaf clover junction near the epicenter of the event, when authorities began shooting at the protesters.  At the nearby Atmajaya University, several protesters were shot dead, including one of its students Bernadus Realino Norma Irmawan or Wawan.

The death of Wawan and his fellow protesters caused a deep grief to their families, but it has also ignited perhaps the longest-running campaign for justice for victims of human rights abuses in Indonesia.  Since January 18, 2007, families of those killed in the shooting has gathered every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace to remind people of the severe human rights violations that took place then, and to urge fair trial and punishment for those responsible for these events.

Maria Katarina Sumarsih, 65, remembers the moment that changed her life forever like it was yesterday. On the evening of November 13, 1998, a Friday, Sumarsih, her husband, her sibling, and her in-laws rushed to Rumah Sakit Jakarta, the hospital nearest the site of the shooting, after receiving a call informing her that Wawan had been shot. Upon arriving, they were told to look for him in the basement, where the morgue is usually located. There they found some caskets lined up, and in one of them was Wawan’s body.

In her grief, she wanted desperately to bring her son’s remains home, but Chief Investigator at Jakarta Military Police Wempi Hapan asked that the body be autopsied at the state-owned Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM). Though Sumarsih was hesitant at first, she eventually agreed after being told that an autopsy was akin to a small procedure.

With the protests and the shooting still ongoing, the trip to RSCM was rough. “The ambulance driver repeatedly shouted, ‘Get your head down! Get your head down! They’re shooting  at us’,” she recalled.

Later the forensic doctor concluded that Wawan was shot with a sharp bullet that is the standard ammunition of the Indonesia National Armed Forces (TNI). The rest was history.

It took awhile before Sumarsih could overcome her grief. For several days she could not eat. She took three months off from work at the Secretariat of the House of Representatives. Until today, she still hasn’t regained her appetite for rice. But one habit that she continues to do these days is laying out a plate, fork, spoon and glass at the dining table, as if her son Wawan would join them for meal.

Since that day, Sumarsih has been trying to seek justice. In early January 2007, she and other family members of human rights abuse victims in a group called  Solidarity of Victims for Justice Network (JSKK) agreed to hold a “silent protest” every Thursday at 4-5 p.m. This later became known as “Thursday Movement” (Aksi Kamisan or just Kamisan).


Pictures of Wawan

Kamisan was inspired by a similar movement of Argentinian mothers who used to stage rallies at Plaza De Mayo, the main square at Buenos Aires across the Presidential Palace. The women were demanding investigations into the disappearance of their children and husbands under the military dictatorship regime of Jorge Videla.

In the last nine years the Thursday Movement has provided a place to channel the voice of families of victims of other human rights abuses perpetrated by the State, from forced evictions, persecuted religious minorities, to LGBT community. Every week, the movement is participated by about 70 people, each carrying a black umbrella calling for justice for the different cases.

“Umbrella symbolizes protection,” she said, adding that the Presidential Palace was chosen as a venue because it represents power.

“If we cannot get protection from the country in this world, we’ll get it from God. If we cannot have justice in this world, we’ll have it from God.”

Black represents her undying love for Wawan: “I love him though he had passed away. My love for him is the same as my love for other victims. Our grief has been transformed into courage to uphold the law and human rights.”


Sumarsih (standing in the middle) in Kamisan

Kamisan has received the attentions of many people, with some providing helps to them. One civil society organization routinely gave transportation fund for families of the victims. Others express their sympathies by donating food and drinks.

There are the occasional critics, however.

“A reporter once asked us why we let the victims of the 1965 events join us,” Sumarsih recalled, citing the year when the violent purge of communist sympathizers by the State that led to the death of hundreds of thousands in Indonesia began.

“I told the reporter that this movement has nothing to do with ideology. It’s purely about humanity.”

Sumarsih’s family is very supportive of the movement. Her husband Arief Priyadi is a scholar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and before the Kamisan started, he was also involved in the advocacy for the shooting victims, though currently his work schedule prevented him from active involvement.

Since it started, Kamisan has only been accepted by one president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in 2008. In fact, since November last year, the movement has started to feel the squeeze, with police forcing them to disperse. A couple of times the activists were allowed to stay after they negotiated with the police.

She recalled what happened at a recent Kamisan in early January: “Right after we opened our umbrellas, the police began coming at us from right, left, and back. They were instructed to take us, though that didn’t happen.”

She would’ve liked to be taken to the police station, she said. At least there the group would have the police’s ear with the hope that what they demanded would eventually reach the President. The police have a reason to disperse them, she said. Article 9, Law No. 9, 1998 about Freedom of Expression in Public rules that a public protest must be conducted at a minimum of 100 meters distance from the fence of the presidential palace. But this law was never really enforced before.

“Yes, I break the rule that says protests must be at least 100 meters away from the fence, but the government broke the law by killing my son,” she would tell the police.



Despite the challenges and obstacles, Sumarsih doesn’t let them discourage her.

“Sometimes I feel pessimistic about our fight, because it is exhausting to keep on going. But I place my hope in Jokowi, because he has committed to resolving human rights abuse cases and ending impunity,” she said, referring to President Joko Widodo by his popular moniker.

“In his speech on December 10, 2015, the President said that taking steps of reconciliation as well as taking judicial and non-judicial measures requires courage, breakthrough and improvement for the better. This gives me hopes,” she added.

aksi kamisan 9 tahun

Ninth Years of Kamisan

This story has been published in ,  you can see the original version in Indonesian here . All pictures are mine, except the last picture.


Human Rights in Turkey

199486 Protestors hold placards reading “free media cannot be silenced” in front of Zaman headquarters on Dec.14, 2014. (Photo: AP)

In a sharply-worded response, Amnesty International described today’s take-over of Zaman newspaper  by court-appointed trustees asthe latest deeply troubling episode in the Turkish authorities’ ongoing onslaught on dissenting media.”

“By lashing out and seeking to rein in critical voices, President Erdogan’s government is steamrolling over human rights,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey expert. Today’s attack is simply the latest salvo in a sustained attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press in Turkey.

5966656-3x2-940x627 Staff members and supporters of Zaman newspaper shout slogans and hold placards reading “Free press can not be silenced” during a protest against a raid by counter-terror police in Istanbul on December 14, 2014. AFP: Ozan Kose

Amnesty noted:

Just last week, the TV channel IMCTV was taken off air

View original post 88 more words

Human Rights in Turkey

231937 Riot police break the main entrance of the İpek Media Group headquarters in İstanbul during the raid on Wednesday. (Photo: Today’s Zaman)

“Countless unfair criminal prosecutions, including under criminal defamation and anti-terrorism laws, targeted political activists, journalists and others critical of public officials or government policy. Ordinary citizens were frequently brought before the courts for social media posts.”  That’s the grim portrait on freedom of expression in Turkey, as outlined by Amnesty International in its 2015 Annual Report.

View original post 706 more words

Last November, I had chance to cover life of Hazara refugees in Indonesia. I have been interested in refugees related issues for the last two years, since following news about Syrian conflict. Refugees has become the center of global media spotlight. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that the number of Syrian refugees exceed 4 millions for the first time.

In general, refugee crisis isn’t only about Syria. Hazara refugees story are tragic as others. Hazara people have lived hundred years as minority in Afghanistan . To make the matter worse, they experience double discrimination because, for many people, the religion they practice is different from the one most people practice. Most of them are Shiite Muslims in the Sunni Muslims majority nation. Besides, the way the look is also different from the way most people look. The Hazara people have Asiatic look and almost appear to look Chinese or Mongol.


Some of many Hazara refugees who attend futsal friendly game


Some other refugees who also attend futsal friendly game

When the pro-communism government came on power in Afghanistan in 1980s, the pressures on Hazaras reduced but the situation changed drastically after the fall of them. Then, the Hazaras were systemically under persecution by different militia groups. When Taliban was ruling on Afghanistan, the Hazaras again faced massacre and forced displacement. After Taliban was overthrown in 2001, it was thought that their situation would also change but in reality, as a movement, Taliban is still exist. And last November, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) linked–militia beheaded seven people from Hazara ethnic in the southern province of Zabul following their kidnapping a month before. Three women and a child were among of the victims.

Many Hazaras have been forced to seek refuge overseas, and some of them ended up in Indonesia as a transit place in their journey to find a safer place to live. They then apply for refugee status to the UN refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Unfortunately, they cannot attend school or work legally.

In Cisarua, West Java, a group of teenage girls from Afghanistan have found a surprising escape from the boredom and seeming hopelessness of their lives: futsal. Twelve-year-old Banfsha Mudaber arrived in Indonesia from Herat Province in the western part of Afghanistan with her parents and four siblings in December 2013. The Mudabers flew to Malaysia before continuing to Indonesia by boat together with some 24 other people. Like many of their countrymen, they settled temporarily in Cisarua, Bogor, about 80km away from Jakarta, while awaiting resettlement, which could take years.

Banfsha cannot attend a formal school. Every day from 6 A.M. to noon she studies at the Refugee Learning Center, which was set up with some international support by other refugees. To kill time, Banfsha and her 14-year old sister Nooria often played football with other kids. Inspired by a friendly match of the boys’ football team, some girls from the Refugee Learning Center formed a football team. This was something unthinkable in their own country.


Banfsha was playing futsal. She refused to show her face, so i respected her decision.

“Our parents did not allow us to play football at home because there were a lot of killing, kidnapping, and shooting. It just wasn’t safe,“ said Banfsha. And then there is also cultural barrier. “Many families think that if girls play football, they are bad girls,” she added.

But eventually the parents allowed their daughters to play. The team later became a futsal team, which is an indoor version of the mini football. Said Banfsha’s sister Nooria, 14: “It was my father who wants us to play football.”


Nooria also refused to show her face, so i took her picture from behind

On the day I visited them, the two were playing in a friendly match with a team from another refugees learning center. Nooria and Banfsha said they are passionate about futsal. Playing futsal makes them feel healthy and fresh.

The girls’ futsal team is led by Said Sadeq Akbari, 33, who had been a coach for the last 13 years. He used to coach a men’s football team in a sports center in Tehran, Iran. Akbari said he was happy with the progress of the girls’ futsal team.

“I coach the girls to make them healthy and to prepare them if they eventually decide to play futsal or football more seriously,” he said. ”They are good players, but if they have more facilities, they will get even better,” he added.


Coach Said was standing in the middle

Life may be safer in Indonesia, where they don’t fear being massacred or beheaded by the militias, but it is not any easier, with limited money and a future that remains unclear. Since refugees cannot legally work, they often have to rely on their savings.

“As refugees, we could be here for four to five years, and we don’t have much money. We don’t know where the UNHCR will sent us,” said Banfsha, adding, “but wherever they send us, it will not be a problem.”

She told me her hopes for the future: “I want to become a writer or a journalist like you, because I want to know about refugees. I want to know what their problems are.”

Despite their hardship, they never lose hope and faith.

“Our purpose of coming here is to be safe and to have education. By having education we can improve our life,” said Nooria.


Refugee Learning Nest girls futsal team

And last week, surprisingly and accidentally, I met 4 Hazara refugees in Central Park Mall, West Jakarta. I seems that I get beter in recognizing faces. Before, I even couldn’t distinguish Hazara and Chinese because they are both Mongoloid. I told them that three months ago, I wrote reportage about Hazara refugees in an online magazine. Then I talk to them for more than 30 minutes.

Miki, who previously lived in Kabul said  : “Of course I know that every country has its own problem. But here, in Indonesia, i get more freedom”. Other refugee, Ahmad, told his risky journey by boat from Malaysia to Medan. Most of them arrived in Indonesia by boat, which was a very risky journey.

Many people still asking why “refugees don’t look poor”. I told you one thing : most people who seek refuge in other countries don’t feel safe. SAFETY is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. Hazara people fleed their home countries because they fear persecution based on their race and religion.

As for me, my encounter with refugees leave me a deep impression. I keep asking why,  in this twentieth century , there is still religious and ethnic persecution. This is make me sad and broken heart. Then I realized that the only winner in war is weapon industry. Civilians suffer the most in war. Making the world a better place to live is not an easy task. As long as most people worship money and power, peace is only an illusion.

hazara refugees boys

Hazara refugees that I met accidentally at Central Park Mall


This story has been published in  . You can see the original version here . All pictures are mine.




War is far from being over in Syria. Nice thought,

Elijah J M | ايليا ج مغناير


There are three possible scenarios in Syria

Participation of Arab troops  in Syria is not excluded ..

As in Berlin WWII, Syria might face Gharbistan and Sharqistan

By Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai)

A high-ranking officer within the joint operations room in Damascus, which includes Russia, Iran and Syria and Hezbollah said, “ there are three possible scenarios in Syria: The first is the Arab ground troops would enter Syria from the Turkish borders, in the area under the so-called “Islamic State” group (ISIS) on the long bordering front from Jarablus to Al-Ra’ee. This can be possible and quickly achievable if a kind of an agreement is reached between Turkey and ISIS. After all, the Jihadist group has to face either the Turkish-Arab forces – that could allow a possible exit – or the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah forces where there will be no exit”.

“The second scenario is through the Jordanian borders East…

View original post 845 more words

Human Rights in Turkey


When Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğluarrived in Netherlands today for one-day talks with his counterpart, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, activists from Amnesty International were there to greet him.  Their message was simple: Turkey’s on-going human rights abuses can not be ignored. 

In particular, Amnesty is focusing on the dramatic and far-reaching abuses in southeastern Turkey, where indefinite, round-the-clock curfews and other arbitrary measures have resulted in tremendous hardship.

View original post 625 more words

On Saturday night (16 January 2016), a number of non government organizations and community organizations held in solidarity with victims of Jakarta bombing. Hundreds of people participated in the rally in sidewalk near Starbucks Cafe which was one of the site attacks. Many of them brought a banner read : “We Are Not Afraid”.


People brought a banner read : “Kami Tidak Takut” (We Are Not Afraid). Source : private collection


The Commission of For The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) was one of the NGOs that participated in this rally.  Coordinator of KONTRAS, Haris Azhar said that people were not only expressed their their feeling of unfrightened but also rejected violence. “Terrorism is a form of violence that should be rejected”, he said in front of Starbucks Thamrin on Saturday night, January 16, 2016.

Azhar also emphasized that violence can not be combatted by violence. He invites people to participate in preventing terrorism in good ways .

Other people who joined this rally was Sumarsih. Besides condemning terror, she also stated that terror can be committed by the state. Her son, Benardinus Irmawan , was killed by gunfire on 13 November 1998 during riots and protests against the government of President BJ Habibie. The incident known as the Semanggi Tragedy.


Sumarsih is praying . Source : private collection

Earlier, On Thursday morning (14 January), multiple explosion and gun attack rocked the Indonesian capital. In that incident, eight people were killed, including five terrorists and more than 20 people were injured. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have claimed responsibility for the bloody events.

In response of  the attack, Indonesian authorities raises security alert to the highest level. Police officers with rifles are deployed in some places such as shopping malls, foreign embassies , five stars hotel, as well as places near to site attacks.


Police officers with rifle are deployed in front of Starbucks, which was one the site attacks. Source : private collection

Messi’s Fiscal Case

A Ranting Cruijffista

Lionel Messi appears in court charged for tax fraud

No, Messi is not going to prison. Let’s be very clear about that before going any further.

In Spain, if you do not have prior criminal convictions, you will not get jail time if you are sentenced to less than 2 years. If Messi’s case goes south, he would only get 22 months.

So, no jail, for those worried/excited about that.

Ok, so let’s talk about the last couple of days regarding Messi’s legal case, with the help of my friend @siemprepositifo. You should be following him already, but if you aren’t, start now.

Yesterday, the Spanish Fiscal Authorities decided to only charge Messi’s father and took Messi out of the equation. Proper journalists were tweeting since yesterday that the case was not over for Messi yet, but the usual sport newspapers didn’t care. Messi wasn’t “free to go”.

Today, the District Attorney’s Office ruled they will go after Messi, and, 

View original post 349 more words