Why Indonesia’s anti-sexual violence bill important for people with disabilities

Despite many controversies surrounding deliberation on the anti-sexual violence bill in Indonesia’s parliament, people with disabilities welcome the new bill.

Many disability organisations and advocates have demanded the parliament pass the bill as they believe it will be a major policy reform to protect people with disabilities from sexual violence. The law will also guarantee their equal rights with other fellow citizens. They laud the bill as a timely criminal justice response to people with disabilities, including children, suffering from sexual violence.

Current condition
The 2019 report from the National Commission on Violence Against Women showed a gradual increase in sexual violence cases against women with disabilities. It provided data showing the number of women with disabilities suffering from sexual violence had increased from 40 cases in 2015 to 89 cases as of March 2019.

Yogyakarta province, located 500 kilometres from capital Jakarta, recorded the highest number of cases, 47, followed by Jakarta with 17 cases as of March 2019.

This is mostly because Yogyakarta has the most active organisations advocating for legal rights and counselling for people with disabilities. Aside from civil organisations, there is also support from the local government in addressing sexual violence and promoting legal protection to people with disabilities.

Since 2016, there have been two district courts in Yogyakarta offering better legal protection to people with disabilities. They start by providing access for wheelchair users.

It is important to note that the actual number of women and children with disabilities who have been victims of sexual violence is much higher than the reported figures. The commission based the data mentioned above on the report submitted by disabled people organisations and legal aid foundations. Like fellow citizens, people with disabilities are often not aware of their legal rights.

Changes under the new law
The new law, which lists various forms of sexual violence as criminal offences including sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, forced contraception, forced abortion, rape, forced marriage, forced prostitution, sexual slavery and sexual abuse, will soon change this.

The law requires the government to adopt a series of policies to prevent sexual violence. This includes providing legal education to people with disabilities so they can understand their rights and what constitutes sexual violence.

Once passed, the law will better protect people with disabilities, especially women and children, from different forms of sexual violence.

Article 45 of the bill also acknowledges that people with disabilities have equal legal capacity to stand trial or testify as a witness. It also requires legal institutions, including courts, to address the needs of people with disabilities when they are engaged in legal processes.

This starts with providing well-trained staff to assist people with disabilities, including sign-language interpreters. The government can also provide assistive technology such as text-to-speech software to help visually impaired and blind people participate in trial processes.

One of the biggest challenges of women with disabilities when reporting sexual violence is Indonesia’s complex legal system and incompetent authorities. There is simply a lack of understanding among law enforcement agencies about how to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

Due to these challenges, only a few were able to proceed their cases to court. In 2016, only three out of 76 cases went to trial in Yogyakarta.

The bill is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which Indonesia ratified in 2011. The convention aims to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. The bill also supports the 2016 National Disability Law.

Remaining debates
The bill has triggered intense public debate, with opposition from Islamic parties led by the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). They reject it because they believe the bill contradicts Islamic teachings as it promotes same-sex relations and other deviant sexual behaviours and liberal practices. They accuse the bill’s supporters of being influenced by Western values.

They are missing the larger point.

They forget that the bill also promotes and protects the rights of the most marginalised and the most discriminated groups in Indonesian society: women and children with disabilities.

As politicians focus on the inauguration of a new parliament in October, supporters of the bill are concerned the bill might not be passed.

Should lawmakers decide to defer deliberation on the bill, it will raise the possibility that religiously motivated opposition continues to grow as it give them more time to continue with their campaign. This may lead to the defeat of this important law. Let’s hope this will not be the case.

This article has previously been published in The Conversation. It is republished for educational purposes.

International Conference Invitation and Registration

The 2nd International Conference on Disability and Diversity in Asia
“Theorizing Advocacy and Research for Disability Policy and Social Inclusion”

Date: 24-25 September 2019
Location: Law Faculty of Brawijaya University Malang, East Java Indonesia
Organised jointly with: La Trobe Law School Melbourne Australia, Pusat Studi Layanan Disabilitas (PSLD) Brawijaya University Malang, East Java Indonesia and Australia Indonesia Disability and Research Advocacy Network (AIDRAN)

Public lectures by Professor Patrick Keyzer, Law School La Trobe University

Prof. Patrick Keyzer with participants of public lecture.

Professor Patrick Keyzer, Law School La Trobe University presented two public lectures: ‘The Implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme: Hopes, Dreams, Challenges and Prospects’ at the Faculty of Law – University of Indonesia, Jakarta 24 October 2018 and ‘How is capacity measured in Australian disability law?’ at Jentera Law School, Jakarta 25 October 2018.

Can Indonesian ‘smart cities’ be inclusive?

In the last two decades, the concept of a ‘smart city’ has been progressively adopted by cities in Southeast Asian countries, including cities in Indonesia. The concept originated in the USA and several European countries in the early 1990s, and according to the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), there are several dimensions to the idea of a ‘smart city,’ including a smart economy, smart mobility, a smart environment, a smart government, smart living, and smart people. The idea behind the ‘smart city’ concept is to make a city more dynamic, and inspire city governments to increase the quality of life for all its inhabitants. This can be done by facilitating the interaction between people, as well as the movement of goods, capital, ideas, and knowledge, through technology.

This article discusses how the concept of a ‘smart city’ has been implemented in Indonesia, and to what extent this concept has positively impacted accessibility and equality for people with disabilities.

For cities in Indonesia, the ‘smart city’ concept is seen as a strategy to address problems associated with its urban population. Big cities like Jakarta, Denpasar, Bandung, Surabaya, Makassar, and Medan for example, must deal with many new people arriving in search of a better life. This has presented city governments with challenges on delivering public services like education, public transport, and health services. The ‘smart city’ concept is expected to help city governments in creating new and innovative policies through the use of technology.

Because the concept of a ‘smart city’ emphasises the importance of ensuring inclusion, this means that all inhabitants, regardless of their backgrounds and identities, are entitled to equal access and participation in public life. All government services and departments, including those that rely on technology, must ensure they are accessible to every citizen, including people with disabilities. Every public service must be accessible to those who are visually impaired, deaf, and have physical disabilities, and it must be accessible to the elderly population as well.

There are two cities in Indonesia which have introduced smart city initiatives to date; the city of Surabaya and the provincial city of DKI Jakarta. Together, they are Indonesia’s two largest cities. Surabaya has claimed to be the first city to introduce the ‘smart city’ concept by initiating an e-government project in 2003. According to Mr Hefli Syarifuddin Madjid, the Head of the Application and Telematics Division in the Communication and Informatics Services of Surabaya City, the e-government project aims to provide residents with access to public services like health, education, and public transport.


To support this initiative, the Surabaya city government introduced an app-based service known as Matakota. Matakota was designed to increase mobility and safety for residents in Surabaya by providing information about traffic jams, natural disasters, and any criminal activity. It is equipped with a ‘panic button’ that can be used to call police or an ambulance in case of an emergency. Another feature is an early Warning System feature to warm victims in case of a looming natural disaster. This was introduced as a mitigation policy to reduce the number of victims in the event of natural disaster.

Following Surabaya’s lead, Jakarta launched the smart city initiative (Jakarta Smart City/JSC) in 2016 by introducing Qlue. Qlue is an online app-based service which provides information on public services, and allows Jakarta’s residents to communicate directly with the city government on any issue regarding these services. In an interview with Mr Gerry Magenta from Qlue Indonesia, he stated that the name of Qlue was inspired by the Bahasa Indonesian word ‘keluhan’, which means complaint, and by the English word ‘clue’. This name is meant to convey Jakarta’s smart city vision in creating solutions, and promoting transparency and public participation. Qlue can be accessed from stakeholders’ mobile phones, and stakeholders include the local government (including the Regional Device Work Unit), Jakarta’ residents, and the broader public.


Unfortunately, from my observation, these two applications have not been equipped with tools that allow people with disabilities to access these services easily, and was it not designed with this in mind either. For example, the app does not provide any information on which public transport services are accessible to people with disabilities,  and I noticed that the applications are not equipped with features for visually impaired people, people with hearing impairment, or people with physical disabilities.

Therefore, it seems that these two cities have neglected their legal obligations to people with disabilities, in regards to the smart city concept. The city of Surabaya is, in fact, required to guarantee people with a disability access to the Social Welfare Services, as per the Local Regulation No.2/2012 on Social Welfare Services (Peraturan Daerah Kota Surabaya No.2/2012 tentang Penyelenggaraan Kesejahteraan Sosial). This is in addition to the Regulation of the Mayor of Surabaya No. 24/2018 on the rights of people with disabilities to access financial support for Health Services. Similarly, the provincial government of DKI Jakarta has failed to implement its Local Regulation No. 10/2011 on the Protection of People with Disabilities (Peraturan Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta No. 10/2011 tentang Perlindungan Penyandang Disabilitas), which guarantees that people with disabilities have a right to education, health, sport, art and culture, labour, business, public services, participate in politics, and have access to justice.

While both cities have introduced legal regulations to fulfill the rights of people with disabilities, it is obvious that these policies have not been implemented well. Both initiatives fail to guarantee accessible services to people with disabilities. This is made clear by the apps’ lack of accessibility to support people with disabilities and the lack of information on services available on the app for people with disabilities.

Kurnia Novianti

PhD Candidate

Anthropology Program

Department of Social Inquiry

School of Humanities and Social Sciences



Nominal Group Technique Workshop

Hotel Santika Malang
Hosted by PSLD UB

This workshop is jointly organised by AIDRAN and PSLD in Malang on 23 November 2018. About 52 participants attended the workshop. They were researchers, disability students and activists from around East Java, and local government officials. The workshop was led by Professor Patrick Keyzer. This workshop is one of the activities conducted by AIDRAN in collaboration with PSLD with the objective to share experience in researching disability issues. This training is organised by Center for the Study of Disability Studies and Services, Universitas Brawijaya (CDSS UB) and Australia-Indonesia Disability Research and Advocacy Network (AIDRAN), La Trobe Law School La Trobe University, Sociology Department UB, and UB Law Faculty.

Nominal Group Technique is one methodology that researchers use to gather data and information. It is a group process involving problem identification, solution generation, and decision making. It can be used in groups of many sizes, who want to make their decision quickly, as by a vote, but want everyone’s opinions are taken into account (as opposed to traditional voting, where only the largest group is considered). By using NGT as a methodology, researchers can extract answers to questions from small focus groups of six or more people. Participants in the group can give their answer in a group setting and learn from others on the range of answer. This process allows the participant to get a perspective on the intensity of the issue. The different answers that are collected from the group might also help researchers to build questionnaires to dive into a thorough and detail information or data. 

Another key benefit of doing NGT is to help researchers avoid confirmation bias in social science research. NGT is a research exercise that allows researchers to analyse a different perspective gather from each group which could lead researchers to go deeper into getting further elaboration, for example, on the nature of the differences or the level of experience or the other sociological backgrounds of participants in each group. 

At this workshop, participants practised the NGT data gathering with participants being asked to reflect on a research question “Apa yang bias dilakukan oleh Pemerintah untuk memajukan hak penyandang disabilitas di Indonesia”. Participants were divided into seven groups. Each group listed the answers from every member of the group before sharing it with their group. The group then discuss openly and compile their first six responses. The responses are then pooled for the member of the group to “vote” on the outcomes to build a group consensus. 

From the exercise, participants learn how NGT allows researchers and individual to work in a group to develop agendas and action lists. This exercise also allows every individual to have their view and discuss it within their groups before developing group consensus. It can also be used to build questionnaire items that have content and construct validity.


After hosting Asian Para Games, Indonesia should make disability inclusion a priority

Indonesia successfully hosted the Asian Para Games in October. Not only did Indonesian Para athletes break their medal target like their fellow athletes competing in the Asian Games, the event made disability no longer invisible.

Athletes from Thailand in action during the Asian Para Games 2018. http://www.shutterstock.com/FocusDzign

For many Indonesians, it was probably the first time they had been exposed to people with disabilities and to the different abilities they possess.

Lack of inclusive schools has prevented people with disabilities from sustaining life pathways that would enable them to reach their full capabilities. The special schools have led to segregation and discrimination.

The general public does not understand the challenges faced by people with disabilities to exercise their basic human rights to live independent lives. Lack of accessible infrastructure, public facilities and inclusive policies prevent them from participating on a par with their non-disabled peers.

Hosting the Asian Para Games was a milestone for inclusion in Indonesia. It forced the government to build accessible infrastructure and strengthen the campaign to change attitudes – barriers that have hindered people with disabilities from being included in the life of society.

But the work for disability inclusion should go beyond hosting a sporting event. It needs a continuous sustained effort involving government down to the village level working together with people with disabilities.

An example of this is found in Plembutan village, in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta. Its administration has included promotion of inclusion of people with disabilities in their village development agenda since 2014.

The village recently hosted the Temu Inklusi (Inclusive Meeting), the third biennial gathering of Disabled People Organisations (DPOs). The meeting brings together DPOs from the eastern and western parts of Indonesia, other civil society organisations and government representatives.

The story of Plembutan village

Plembutan village is located in the district of Gunung Kidul and has 5,000 inhabitants.

The village leaders have been in talks with international organisationsand national DPOs such as SIGAB for a number of years. In 2017, the village released a decree to include vulnerable groups in village development.

Edi Suprianti, the village head, said the decree was to ensure the local village administration and community members include the participation of people with disabilities and change perceptions and attitudes towards disabilities. Not only is the village office now accessible, it regularly organises training and entrepreneurship workshops as a pathway for people with disabilities to live independently.

The village is the only one in Indonesia so far that has introduced inclusive village regulation. This regulation allows Edi to allocate funding from the village annual development budget to develop a model of social protection for people with disabilities. This helps to ensure they can live independently with dignity and respect.

Temu Inklusi gathering at Plembutan village, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Author provided

Disability movement

At least seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) closely relate to the enhancement of the rights of persons with disabilities. Among these are social protection, quality education, economic independence, employment, inclusive public facilities and infrastructure and access to justice.

This year’s Temu Inklusi event, jointly organised by the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Human Development and Culture and Yogyakarta-based disabled people organisation SIGAB, aimed to contribute to efforts to implement the principles of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the SDGs.

Disability activism in Indonesia has benefited from Indonesia’s political reform and democratisation. Indonesia started to see the founding of DPOs in the late 1980s and early 1990s. DPOs have been partnering with other civil society organisation and rights activists in influencing significant legal reform.

Indonesia ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2011. In 2016, it passed the Disability Rights Law.

The 2016 legislation originally required the Indonesian government to introduce 15 accompanying regulations. These would regulate various aspects of disability inclusion from inclusive public facilities, employment and social welfare to access to justice.

However, the government has now compressed those 15 to seven regulations. These cover planning, implementation and evaluation of the need of people with disabilities, accessible accommodation for legal services, and inclusive education, social welfare, accessible public facilities, incentive and concessions on services to people with disabilities. The law also requires the establishment of a National Disability Commission.

Progress in the drafting of these regulations has been slow as it requires cross-sectoral approach from various government ministries. These include the Ministry of National Development Planning, Ministry of Human Rights and Law, Ministry of Social Services, and Ministry of Public Facilities and Housing.

The Ministry of National Planning recently announced that the government will finally pass the regulation on appropriate accommodation for people with disabilities by the end of the year.

How to move forward?

An important insight from discussions at Temu Inklusi was that enhancing the rights of people with disabilities requires all sectors to work together. Practices at local level, such as in Desa Plembutan, resulted from the village engaging with organisations working in disability sectors.

Indonesia’s decentralisation and the introduction of Village Law in 2015 have given autonomy for villages to plan, prioritise and finance their development agendas based on their individual needs and priorities.

Currently, Indonesia lacks adequate national data on disabilities that might assist in properly planning for the prevalence of certain disabilities and particular needs of individuals. So, devolving responsibility to smaller administrative regions may work well as a strategy, for now.

As the campaigns for presidential and legislative elections have begun, we should look at what candidates are saying and plan to do to fulfil the unmet needs of people with disabilities.

Author: Dr Dina Afrianty, Research fellow at La Trobe University and President of AIDRAN

This article is originally published by The Conversation


It’s time for Indonesians to say goodbye to the ‘supercrip’

Asian Para Games athlete Maria Goreti Samiati. Photo by Mohammad Ayudha for Antara.

Life for people with disability in Indonesia is highly challenging. They face poor accessibility to public facilities, transportation, and buildings, weak social security support, and patronising public attitudes. One of the most common public perspectives is to view people with disabilities as somehow extraordinary or deserving of compliments.

This way of viewing people with disabilities as “supercrips” is pervasive in Indonesia. It is consistent with a view of disability that sees people with disability as “others”, different from the majority. According to this view, any artistic, academic or sporting products or achievements produced by people with disability are considered extraordinary and worthy of effusive praise.

This type of attitude can also result in people with disability being praised for just going about their daily lives. It is not uncommon to hear comments like: “Even though she is deaf, she can still take great photographs”, or “He uses a wheelchair but he got the top marks in the maths exam”.

During the 2018 Asian Para Games, for example, a stranger approached me and shook my hand, exclaiming, “You are awesome, I am amazed”. He had never met me before. All I had been doing was walking through the grounds of the event.

Academic Jan Grue notes(link is external) that the result of this view is that “the greater the achievement and the greater the impairment, the more impressive the supercrip.” Even if an artistic product has not been appraised or displayed alongside other artworks in a curated environment, as long as it is produced by a person with disability, it is considered to be an incredible or valuable work. Grue summarises this notion with the formula: (S)upercriphood = (A)chievement x (I)mpairment.

This notion of the “supercrip” interacts closely with perspectives that view people with disability as objects of charity. A charity perspective might see the government, with good intentions, providing opportunities for people with disability to participate in creating art. But often the end results are lauded without objective or professional judgment. Unlike other artworks, which are curated based on philosophical, technical or theoretical considerations, artworks of people with disability are often curated based on being produced by people with disability. Disability becomes the prominent focus, rather than the artwork.

This view is dominant in Indonesian society. I have visited many areas of Indonesia where people with disability are creating art but their works are simultaneously considered the result of “leisure activities”, rather than serious artistic endeavour, while also being considered worthy of high praise. Many government ceremonies are accompanied by dances, readings, or music performed by people with disability, which are then given excessive or exaggerated applause. They are judged according to their disabilities rather than the quality of their work. They are assumed to be incapable because of their disability, so the simple act of creating art is deemed worthy of praise.

Because of this perspective, it is not surprising that many non-disabled people see people with disability as objects of inspiration. The involvement of people with disability in art is primarily intended to give pleasure to the non-disabled people, resulting in excessive admiration and pity. This is what is known as “inspiration porn”.(link is external) Disability is presented for its ability to satisfy or provide pleasure to the non-disabled, not as something that is normal.

The same patterns are also observed in sport. While the 2018 Asian Para Games was a high profile opportunity to introduce and educate people about disability and diversity, in reality, people with disability were again treated as objects of pity or sources of inspiration for non-disabled people. National daily newspaper Kompas dedicated its front page to the Games, stating in bold font: “They Inspire Us”.


The front page of Kompas on 6 October 2018.


Similarly, in an official video, President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that people with disability were an inspiration to Asian society. In fact, the tagline for the biggest sporting event in Asia was: “The Inspiring Spirit and Energy of Asia”, and the official Para Games social media accounts shared updates with the hashtag #parainspirasi.

Inspiration porn rests on an underlying assumption that people with disability are weak and not able to do what non-disabled people can do. When people with disability achieve sporting success, it’s surprising and impressive for non-disabled people. Viewing people with disability as an inspiration actually subordinates them and singles them out as “the other”.

The works and achievements of people with disabilities are not considered as objects or achievements in their own right but the result of the efforts of a person with disability. This puts the emphasis on the disability and results in excessive praise or people with disability being used to satisfy the inspirational needs of non-disabled people.

This is the great challenge for disability rights activists in Indonesia. It is time to do away with the idea of the supercrip. People with disability are not superhuman or sources of inspiration, they are just people and part of Indonesia’s diverse society. Everybody has their own different characteristics, whether they relate to religion, sexual orientation, race, language, or disability.


Author: Slamet Thohari, lecturer and researcher with the Center for Disability Studies and Services at Brawijaya University and the Indonesian Chair of AIDRAN

This article is originally published by Indonesia at Melbourne



Disability data and the development agenda in Indonesia

At the heart of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is poverty reduction and improved welfare for the world’s poorest people, measurable by social statistics. However, it is increasingly clear that progress in basic services aimed at malnutrition, education and income has bypassed persons with disabilities . As a result, world leaders have reaffirmed their commitment for the post-MDG era to leave no one behind , including people with disabilities.

Indonesia’s commitment to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the country’s development is longstanding. The government ratified the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2011. Prior to that, it enacted Law No. 4/1997 on Disabled People and set a one per cent disability quota for companies with more than 100 employees. In 2014, Indonesia passed a law to ensure more humane treatment of people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities, outlawing the common practice of shackling . As of 2015, Indonesia has 17 laws that cite the rights of people with disabilities.

Indonesia has approached disability inclusion as a cross-sectoral issue and enacted laws through the country’s medium national development plan. This approach could be the catalyst for including people with disabilities into the national agenda and post-MDG objectives. However, a sizeable challenge remains: ensuring accurate statistics and other data on disabilities. The lack of reliable data has serious implications for how Indonesia can tackle issues of disability in the post-MDG era.

A hazy statistical picture
Indonesia probably underestimated the number of persons with disabilities in its population. Official statistics from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) estimated that only 1.4 per cent of Indonesia’s population has a disability, but this number would appear disproportionately low compared to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) averages. For instance, Thailand and Vietnam estimate that 2.9 per cent and 7.8 per cent of their populations have a disability, respectively. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the international average regarding disabilities is around 15 per cent of the global population or one billion people. Using Thailand’s calculations as a low-end proxy would double Indonesia’s population of persons with disabilities to over seven million, while using the WHO measure would suggest that Indonesia has up to 37 million citizens with a disability. Either way, Indonesia’s official figure is dubious.

Our research for the National Program for Community Empowerment (Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Mandiri, PNPM) Special Program on Disability demonstrated that key government agencies collect data on disability using different methods and diverse disability criteria. This uneven approach affects data validity and usability. Furthermore, in general terms, people with disabilities are often omitted as respondents in population surveys. This omission happens even in many developed countries because the range of responses (based on individual disability needs and experiences) is too complex for survey researchers to collate and subsequently analyse.

Further, during our fieldwork, the staff at social services, education, health and labor bureaus in Java and eastern Indonesia stressed that inaccurate and outdated data slows their efforts to reach citizens with disabilities and improve basic services accordingly. This data weakness has undermined Indonesia’s efforts to make progress towards the MDGs in a way that includes people with disabilities. It is important to note that although the data gathered by local government and disabled persons organisations are comparatively more accurate and reliable, the central government questions its validity to justify budget decisions and needs assessments. Often, existing disability policy at the regional level must adopt and use official national data as mandated by the central government, even when that data does not reflect the real number and condition of people with disabilities at the district level.

People with disabilities slip through the gaps
If Indonesia cannot reliably count its citizens with disabilities, and let alone disaggregate that data, how can Indonesian policy makers set appropriate priorities regarding disability in national policy-making, such as those policies related to the MDGs? How can policy makers then act on those policies or measure the effects or progress of implementing such policies? These challenges become apparent when looking at the gaps around including people with disabilities in programs related to the MDGs for health and education.

The Government of Indonesia’s statistics suggest that nearly 25 per cent of people with disabilities live in extreme poverty. These individuals are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes and spend more on health care, yet they have limited access to adequate nutrition, clean water, reproductive health services, safe motherhood and general health information and services. In addition, misconceptions around disability and sexuality often lead to exclusion of people with disabilities from HIV information, prevention and testing.

Both development agencies and government increasingly recognise universal health access as an important component of improving quality of life. People with disabilities are often mentioned as a key subgroup that would benefit from such an approach given that they have historically been neglected. However, information about disability and health behaviour or health services use is scarce in Indonesia, which makes it very difficult to measure the specific experiences of people with disabilities in relation to the MDG targets.

Dibley and Budiharsana, in their article for this edition, point out that there have been improvements in child mortality figures. While these numbers are helpful for Indonesia as a whole to mark its progress towards the achievement of the MDGs, this data does not track disability. For example, it is unclear whether the marker for ‘child mortality’ includes children born with disabilities (which is then perhaps a compounding factor in their death). It is also unclear whether these figures include children who acquire disabilities at birth due to medical malpractice, or include children who acquire disabilities in early childhood due to illness or malnutrition. With regards to maternal health outcomes, there is, at present, no system that tracks mothers with disabilities. There is also no mechanism to track whether complications with pregnancy and childbirth are related to health factors faced by mothers with disabilities and/or the lack of appropriate disability-sensitive health services.

Similar gaps exist in measuring the extent to which children and youth with disabilities have had their educational rights met through the targets set for the MDG on education. According to the 2014 OECD report, Indonesia has shown a significant improvement in both education equity and performance as reflected in the Education For All strategy. Further, it has increased national spending by 20 per cent to meet the goal of universal primary education. Against the backdrop of decentralisation, the country has achieved 93 per cent literacy rate. However, the primary education attendance gap between children with disabilities and children without disabilities remains particularly wide at 60 per cent. To put this number into a perspective, a child with disability in Indonesia is seven times more likely to be absent from school.

Many children with disabilities do not attend school because of logistical (physical), financial and social barriers. What those precise barriers are and possible solutions remain little understood and under researched. Without further data on these barriers, it is impossible to develop realistic and practical strategies to ensure children with disabilities can go to school.

Considerations for the post-MDG era
In September 2012, the UN High Level Panel Committee and civil society, researchers, private sector, foundations and youth held an open dialogue to assess the progress of the MDGs and to devise a new ‘bold, visionary and courageous ’ action plan for tackling global poverty post-2015. Disability has a more noticeable presence in the post-2015 plans, but without accurate data about people with disabilities, questions still remain about the extent to which this new agenda will affect the disability sector in Indonesia.

Until now, people with disabilities have been excluded from many of the MDG-related development programs. The precise nature of that exclusion remains unclear given the hazy data that exists. Ensuring that people with disabilities have access to health and education services in Indonesia is complicated by complex administrative requirements, limited awareness, corruption, and physical and attitudinal barriers regarding disability. Resolving the finer details of these challenges will require better data determination in order to identify appropriate disability-sensitive development goals and implement appropriate mechanisms for achieving them.

Authors: Ekawati Liu and Lyla Brown

This article is originally published by Inside Indonesia