Friday, March 5, 2010


      Jakarta, March 5, 2010 (ANTARA) - "Though deprived of my rights, I still want to devote my life to the nation..." said part of the lyrics of a song 9-year-old Irwan sang in a public minibus at the Kampung Melayu bus station recently.
      It might be a mere `illusion` for a street child like Irwan to make a `big contribution` to the nation as even to buy simple meals, he has to beg, which is a violation of Jakarta`s Bylaw No. 8/2007 endorsed by the home affairs ministry in early 2008.
    The new ordinance, which replaces a 19-year-old bylaw on public order, bans residents from selling goods on the streets, sidewalks, pedestrian bridges and other public spaces. It also prohibits people from giving money to beggars, buskers and street children.
       The National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has expressed its objection to the bylaw on public order because it is against the 1945 Constitution which protects the children`s human rights.
       For sure, the bylaw is ineffective since there are still many street children and beggars in every corner of Jakarta, and some people having empathy still give small changes to them.
      According to Komnas HAM, of the total 17 children in Indonesia, 22 percent live on the streets.
      Meanwhile, data from the Social Affairs Ministry showed the number of children with social welfare problems (0-18 years old) in Indonesia has reached 4,656,913.
     There were 230,000 street children and 5.4 million abandoned ones in Indonesia in 2006, But now the figures had dropped to 147,000 and 4.8 million respectively.
       Indonesia also had 1.7 million child workers, according to a 2009 survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) in cooperation with ILO (International Labor Organization). However, the survey did not include street children because BPS and ILO based their findings on 12,000 families in 248 regencies, while street children do not have addresses.

Ria of the Komnas HAM`s education and information sub commission, said in Jakarta, on Thursday (Feb. 4) that the children were forced to live on the streets although some of them had places to live or parents.

They were abandoned and hardly got any serious attention from the authorities, she said.

Komnas HAM`s data showed that the number of street children in Jakarta increased by 50 percent in 2009 from a year earlier.

The Jakarta provincial social affairs office has conducted an inventory of street children in places such as at the traffic light areas of Cempaka Mas, Matraman, Rawamangun, Lebak Bulus and Grogol, since February 2010.

The inventory carried out in cooperation with several social foundations, universities, and youth organizations such as the Communication Forum of Community Social Workers (FKPSM), is an initial stage before accommodating the street children at Child Care Centers rung by the government.

The Jakarta social affairs officers also distributed brochures and stickers urging the public not to buy anything from street vendors or give anything to beggars.

To help the government deal with the street children, Komnas HAM has issued recommendations on protection of street children. The recommendations to be presented to the government and the private sector, covered policy and action plans, Johny Simanjuntak of Komnas HAM, said here on Thursday.

Cooperation among the government, community groups and the private sector was crucial in addressing the street children problem, he said.

Among the strategies recommended were systematic and comprehensive education, identification of children`s potentials for change, and recognizing the children`s rights, he said.

The recommendations were urgent because of rampant violence against street children lately, including murders, he said.

The fate of the street children has been on the public spotlight lately following reports on a serial murders of at least 14 street

Baekuni allegedly killed and mutilated a total of 14 street children aged between nine and 12 years old, over the last five years in Jakarta and West Java.

"The case should not become a short event with no follow up," he said.

But, Secretary General of the National Commission of Children Protection Arist Merdeka Sirait reminded street children needed to a loving approach.

The security approach applied by city governments` public order officers (Satpol PP) would not be effective as it just reflected panic, not a commitment to solving the street children problem, he said.

"A loving approach recognizes street children as human beings. If we want to see dignified street children, the state should also use a dignified way," he said.

The loving approach includes exploration of the children`s potentials, registering and facilitating them, he said.

"For instance, children who work as street singers, should be facilitated so that they could sing in a hotel," he said.

He also recommended the revocation of regional governments` regulations authorizing the arrest of street children in the name of public order and considering street children as security disturbers.

Chairman of the Grass Root Children Gallery Foundation Susilo Adinegoro, who has been helping educate street children for the last 20 years, agreed that the children needed to be approached lovingly and personally.

Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf al Jufri in a dialogue with participants of a workshop on child welfare last month said the government was soon to issue a Presidential Instruction (Inpres) as the legal basis for concrete action to protect children in the country. The Inpres would be the legal basis for the launching of national child protection movement, he said.

In fact, the Social Affairs Ministry has launched a program to make Jakarta "street-children-free" by 2011 by setting up child care centers.

"The program`s discussion stage has been implemented since early February. A workshop on the street children problem was held with the participation of various elements such as the government, the private sector, NGOs, and several existing child care centers," Febraldi, of the Social Affairs Ministry`s Children Directorate, said in a "Focused Group Discussion" at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) office here on Thursday (March 4).

The existing Children Social Welfare Service Center (PPKSA) located at Bambu Apus, East Jakarta, would be used as a model for future child care centers expected to be built by the regional government or the community, he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently made an inspection of the PPKS Bambu Apus and ordered that the ratio between the number of children and that of care-givers at the Bambu Apus Children Social Care Center (PPKS) should be lowered.

"The ratio needs to be more reasonable, such as 1 to 7 or 1 to 8, or even 1 to 11 or 1 to 12, which I think is still difficult to achieve," the President said.

Te President also said the government will prepare a special system which would guarantee better social justice for the Indonesian people, especially the marginalized segment of the society.

According to Child Social Service Director at the Ministry of Social Affairs Harry Hikmat, the number of the children at the PPKS in Bambu Apus reached 393, including 268 girls, but only 28 employees.

Secretary General of the National Commission for Child Protection Arist Merdeka Sirait said he was not sure that Jakarta could be free of street children by 2011.

"Don`t set a target that in 2011 Jakarta will be free of street children if there are no preparations concerning the needed budget, political will and regional governments` regulations. There is a fear that the security approach is to be used to free Jakarta from street children," Sirait said.

Sharing Sirait`s opinion, Jhony Simanjuntak of Komnas HAM and Susilo Adinegoro, chairman of the Grass Root Children Gallery Foundation, expressed pessimism about the program`s target.

"It`s impossible to make Jakarta free from street children by 2011," Simanjutak said at his office.

Sharing Simanjutak`s opinion, Susilo Adinegoro said accommodating street children in child care centers or sending them back to their villages would not solve the problem, because there might be more street children in 2012.

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(T.F001/A/F001/a032) 05-03-2010 19:40:22

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