The domestic violence rate in Papua is one of the highest of all provinces in Indonesia. But often, victims – women and children included – do not get the services and support that they need to recover from such trauma.

Between January and November 2013, the Papua police department received reports of 154 violence cases, 40 neglect cases, 31 rape cases, 37 infidelities, and 24 physical violence cases. In the capital city of Kota Jayapura, the Centre for Integrated Services for the Protection of Women and Children and partnering health clinics recorded an increase in cases in 2014 and 2015 – of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and forced marriage, among many others.

Kinerja, a USAID project for improving public service governance in Indonesia, worked with the local government, the integrated services centre and the province’s health centres to bring services together and ensure that victims get timely and appropriate help.

The challenges

The province faced multiple challenges in finding a solution. First, health centres, the capital’s integrated services centre, and the police did not understand each other’s roles in helping victims of violence.

What’s more, staff at the integrated services centre did not have adequate knowledge on how to handle domestic violence cases. They would refer victims straight to police without referring them to health centres first, so many victims do not have accurate medical evidence to support their case.

Staff also often do not keep records of cases, leading to a lack of accurate data. This is because most staff have never been trained on handling domestic violence cases.

And health centres, as frontline health facilities, only focus on physical treatment for injuries. Most do not explore suspected cases of domestic violence further. “We, health workers, only treat wounds, give [the victims] physical treatment,” said Syiska, a midwife at a health centre in Koya Barat.

More broadly, the community in Kota Jayapura has a deep misunderstanding of domestic violence and its impact on the vulnerable. Many survivors do not realise that they actually experienced domestic violence, and the issue is not considered important by the society. Because of this, people lack awareness that services and support for domestic violence victims exist.

The solution

Between 2013 and 2015, the Kota Jayapura government worked with a partner NGO to begin providing standardised services to survivors of domestic violence.

Kinerja helped by connecting stakeholders and strengthening relationships, so that all the agencies and organisations responsible for addressing domestic violence could work together more effectively. These bodies developed a regional action plan to ensure the sustainability of services for survivors of domestic violence.

Next, stakeholders came together to develop a set of SOPs for how to handle domestic violence cases. The integrated services centre, hospitals, health clinics, police, district health office, social affairs office, and district-level multi-stakeholder forums all had a say. Community members were given the chance to take part through these forums.

Kinerja also worked to raise public awareness on violence against women and children, and on services for survivors. This step involved disseminating information on services for women and children experiencing violence, and getting local media involved.

Training of staff, from the frontline to the technical teams, was key, with a focus on bringing together physical and mental health services. “Counselling is very important; focusing only on physical treatment does not help,” noted Syiska. Trainings focused on how to provide basic counselling, medical assistance, and legal assistance.

The members of the multi-stakeholder forums and support groups were also trained on how to identify cases and provide and basic counselling for survivors. They could also report cases via SMS to the NGO.

The impact

The programme helped to show women that they need not keep silent when they face abuse, and people around them now knew the referral system and who should be contacted when they suspect cases of domestic violence.

Health workers are now better able to record cases, provide counselling for the survivors, and refer them to the police. The SOPs provide clear service and reference flows, so health workers can manage domestic violence cases better and survivors can receive appropriate assistance in time.

Now, there is stronger cooperation between sectors. All stakeholders understand their responsibilities in domestic violence case management, so that budget allocations do not overlap or become the sole responsibility of the integrated services centre.

Importantly, skill trainings for the violence survivors has helped to increase their self-confidence and become economically independent.

Today, there is not much data available on the progress of cutting domestic violence, and many cases go unreported, according to the Jakarta Post. In 2016, half of the 193 women murdered in Indonesia were killed by husbands, boyfriends, former partners, or men who were attracted to them. In Papua province, 2018 figures revealed that domestic violence accounted for 5% of all homicides.

Papuans have lived with violence for decades now – both inside and outside of the home. Improving trust and building peace in the local community will be a crucial part of reconciling in the future.

Read the full report here.

Image by DFATCC BY 2.0