Her case was taken to the court and she bravely fought in court for more than eight months. In November 2016, her employer was found guilty and sentenced for nine years in prison. However, her employer has filed an appeal and the case is still ongoing at the higher court.
Her case was considered important in the fight for justice for domestic workers in the country as most of the legal cases involving domestic workers rarely go to the court. Most cases were settled through mediation. To date, only three cases involving domestic workers went on trial, including Marni’s.
I was actually worried that I might lose the case. The road to justice was very heavy. The abuse left me with injuries and trauma but I just want to continue my life and reach my dreams."Siti Sri Marni
Launched on 16 June 2017 in conjunction with the commemoration of the International Domestic Workers Day, the Compilation documents and analyzes 24 major domestic workers’ cases divided into three major cases: Employment (15 cases), criminalization (4 cases) and criminal (5 cases). The cases involved both adult domestic workers as well as child domestic workers.
The employment cases involve unfair dismissal due to, among others, sickness, pregnancy, lack of working contract, social security as well as dismissal without severance payment and benefits. Criminalization cases include false accusation and mistreatment; while criminal cases comprise domestic workers as victims of trafficking and of domestic violence.
All the cases had been handled by the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) and the Legal Aid Institute of the Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice (LBH APIK), members of JALA PRT, with support from the ILO through its Promoting Decent Work for Domestic Workers (PROMOTE) Project. Funded by the United States Department of Labour (USDOL), The ILO’s PROMOTE Project aims at promoting decent work for domestic workers and reducing child domestic workers significantly.
“Domestic workers have the same legal rights at the workplace, just like other workers and profession. Therefore, it is part of the joint effort to promote better legal protection and wider access to justice for Indonesian domestic workers,” said Arum Ratnawati, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO’s PROMOTE Project, adding that the Project has developed a Training Manual on Paralegal and capacitated a number of hotline services to further assist Indonesian domestic workers.
Domestic workers have the same legal rights at the workplace, just like other workers and profession. Therefore, it is part of the joint effort to promote better legal protection and wider access to justice for Indonesian domestic workers."Arum Ratnawati, Chief Technical Adviser of the ILO’s PROMOTE Project
It began with punches, then progressed to beatings with belts, brooms and slippers. Hot water was poured on Marni’s chest, her stomach was ironed and she was forced to eat cat’s excrement. She even attempted to commit suicide three times but failed. Although she won the case, she is now still in recovery process from severe mental and physical pain because of her employer’s abuse.
Marni started to work in her employer’s home in 2007 when she was only 12 years old. She left her family and her seven siblings in Bogor, West Java, and went to Jakarta assuming that she was invited for a vacation. “My uncle came to my house with my employer inviting me to go to Jakarta for a vacation,” she recalled.
Upon Marni’s arrival in Jakarta, her employer promised her that she would treat Marni like her own daughter and she would be sent to school. “She even asked me to call her Mama and I should consider her four children like my own brothers and sisters. She also said that her house was also my house,” she continued.
However, after a few months, instead of going to school, she ended up doing the house works. When she insisted to go back home, she was threatened to be taken to the police station. “She threatened me that the police would arrest me and I would be imprisoned if I went home. I was scared and I stayed,” Marni said.
Finally, on Tuesday, 13 February 2016, after being beaten and abused for hours, she decided to flee from the house. She jumped from the third floor using the cable of the antenna and climbed over the 2-metre front gate despite painful bruises and swelling on her body.
“I just ran and ran with people watching me in disbelief. People were afraid of helping me due to my condition. I ran to the police station. I told the police that I was afraid that I would be put in jail, and the police said that I had nothing to worry about as it should be my employers who be put in jail,” she said.
Marni is now actively involved in advocacy and campaign activities in promoting the rights of domestic worker as workers together with JALA PRT and the ILO. She is now preparing herself to continue her study, taking educational package.
“I was actually worried that I might lose the case. The road to justice was very heavy. The abuse left me with injuries and trauma but I just want to continue my life and reach my dreams,” she said.