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    May 16, 2016

    Indonesia to stop exporting maids by 2017


    INDONESIA will stop locals from going abroad to work as domestic maids starting the end of this month, followed by a complete shutdown on the supply next year, by order of President Joko Widodo, local newspapers reported.

    "Those who already have suitable employers abroad, who pay good salaries and provide amenities, can continue to stay on," Soes Hindarno, director of placement and protection of overseas workers under the Ministry of Manpower, told the media last week.

    "Indonesian embassies can still process job renewal if it is a good employer-employee match," the Tempo newspaper quoted Mr Hindarno as saying in Bandung, West Java, where he was attending an official event.

    "But there will be no more newcomers from Indonesia by 2017," he added.

    The target, the director pointed out, is for all local workers abroad to be true professionals working in companies by 2018, with no more as maids in households.

    The cut-off of the maid supply will first be applied in the Middle East, followed by Asia-Pacific in 2017, including Hong Kong, the Suara Merdeka online portal reported Mr Hindarno as saying.

    His ministry estimates that there are seven million Indonesians working abroad, with 60 per cent of them domestic helpers.

    "Domestic workers still contribute a lot of problems. The market opportunities are wide so why are we relying on this low sector?" asked Mr Hindarno.

    Sunarno, inspector general of the Manpower Ministry, said the government has set up a programme to expand employment opportunities at home to make up for the closing of the overseas maid sector.

    West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan told Tempo that his government supports the move to ban sending locals to work overseas, in particular to the Middle East, where they enjoy no human rights protection.

    Indonesia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that President Joko will fix the problem of domestic maids working abroad being subject to indignities and human rights abuses.

    The Migrant Care non-government organisation recently declared its findings that the memoranda of understanding (MoU) between Jakarta and several countries on the employment of Indonesian maids do not contain human rights provisions.

    One example is the MoU with the Malaysian government signed in 2006 which does not state the maximum working hours, the minimum age of maids and their rights, including the freedom to join a union, said Anis Hidayah, director of Migrant Care.