Growing numbers of Indonesian women and men continue to opt for overseas labour migration as the best way of securing an adequate income for their families and escaping poverty. However, the social and economic costs of migration to the workers and their families are many, but are often poorly understood and documented.
As the second largest sending country, some 700.000 documented Indonesian migrant workers leave the country for work abroad, primarily in East and South East Asia as well as the Middle East. Of these, 78 per cent work as domestic workers. In 2009, around 4.3 million Indonesians were estimated to be working abroad. Even though Indonesian migrant workers are the second largest contributor to Indonesia’s foreign exchange incomes, amounting to about USD 2.4 billion annually, many of these “foreign exchange heroes” experience exploitation and abuse throughout the migration process, both in Indonesia and abroad.
As an effort to document the lives and migration experiences of Indonesian migrant domestic workers, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is going to launch a photo essay titled “The Long Road Home: Journeys of Indonesian Migrant Workers” on Thursday, 29 September 2011, from 14.00 – 17.00 WIB, at Teater Kecil, Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), Cikini, Jakarta. The launch will be opened by Muhaimin Iskandar, Minister of Manpower and Transmigration, Linda Amalia Gumelar, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection, and Peter van Rooij, Country Director of the ILO in Indonesia.
Consisting of an approximately 80 photos, the essay illustrates the journeys taken by the Indonesian domestic migrant workers throughout the cycles of migration from pre-departure and departure stages to placement and reintegration stages. In their own words, these women and their families speak about their daily lives, intimate moments, difficult migration decisions and everyday heroism in the face of financial struggles and adversity while migrating.
The photo essay is developed by the ILO through its Combating Forced Labour and Trafficking of Indonesian Migrant Workers Project. Funded by the Government of Norway, the Project aims to strengthen the protection of migrant workers against trafficking and forced labour practices as well as empower them financially to provide financial alternatives to hazardous overseas labour conditions and migration practices.