JAKARTA: Indonesia has decided to temporarily stop sending women workers to work abroad as domestic helpers, baby-sitters and elderly care-giversfrom this month, saying that it is to increase training facilities prior to reopening the immigration gates.
“The ban is for between two and three months,” I Gusti Made Arka, the director-general of overseas employment services at Indonesia’s Ministry of Labour, said in an interview here yesterday.
“The objective is to increase our training facilities,” Arka said, adding that the ban is effective worldwide.
“We are asking employment agencies in Indonesia to increase their training facilities. No women workers are allowed to be issued new working permits during these months,” said Arka.
Indonesian media regularly run stories about these migrant maids being beaten, sexually abused or underpaid in their respective guest countries.
Parliament members increased the pressure late last year, arguing that it is better to close the immigration gates rather than to allow “our women” to be continually abused.
Minister of Labour Jacob Nuwa Wea, a close adviser to President Megawati Sukarnoputri, finally decided to freeze the overseas employment last week.
Nuwa Wea said last December that Malaysia was the second largest recipient of Indonesian migrant labour after Saudi Arabia.
Last year his office approved the departure of around 155,400 Indonesian workers to work in Malaysia and 200,000 to work in Saudi Arabia.
But Malaysia is the largest recipient of Indonesian workers due to its geographical and cultural proximity.
It is difficult to estimate the number of Indonesian workers who are now residing in Malaysia as many
of them are without proper documents.
Different agencies give different estimations but the most widely accepted figure is around 1.9 million Indonesians who are now living and working in Malaysia.
According to Malaysia’s Immigration Department director Datuk Jamal Kamdi there are now 160,000 Indonesian maids working in Malaysia.
He said the Malaysian Government had yet to be officially informed about the freeze.